RSSCaffeine increases desire and consumption of sugar

Posted on Sun, 15 Mar 15

Caffeine increases desire and consumption of sugar

Caffeine is often added to sugar-sweetened beverages, and a new study has revealed that it causes people to consume more sugar.

Caffeine is present in the majority (over 60%) of regularly consumed sugar sweetened beverages and is claimed to be a “flavor enhancer” by the beverage industry, although it is doubtful there is any effect on flavor at all.

It is well known that caffeine is addictive and causes repeat consumption of caffeine-containing beverages to prevent unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

With this in mind a research group hypothesized that caffeine at levels common in sugar sweetened beverages might promote greater beverage consumption over time when compared to beverages that are caffeine-free. 

In their experiment it was found that people consuming beverages with caffeine consumed almost twice the volume when compared to those who had caffeine-free drinks over a 28-day period.

And those on caffeinated drinks also reported a greater liking of sugary drinks regardless of their caffeine content, suggesting an increase in sugar craving.

Interestingly, a trained flavor panel found no difference in flavor between the caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages debunking the beverage industries claim caffeine enhances flavor.

“There are many factors that combine to promote the overconsumption of sugar sweetened beverages including aggressive marketing, low satiation effect and decreased ability to compensate for liquid energy’ commented the investigators. “In addition to these factors, the inclusion of caffeine as an additive in the formulation of these beverages may be considered a strategy to enhance the consumption of these products.’

“As sugar sweetened beverages are associated with the development of overweight and obesity, regulators and health professionals should increase the pressure on food companies to remove caffeine from formulations” they concluded.


Keast RS, Swinburn BA, Sayompark D, Whitelock S, Riddell LJ. Caffeine increases sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in a free-living population: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2015 Jan 8:1-6. [Epub ahead of print]

Tags: Caffeine, Sugar, Soda, Soft Drink, Sugar Sweetened Beverages

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