Background: Consumption of caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Paradoxically, short-term metabolic studies have shown that caffeine impairs postprandial glycemic control.
Objective: The objective was to prospectively examine the association of caffeinated compared with caffeine-free beverages, including coffee, tea, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), and carbonated artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs), with T2D risk.
Design: We prospectively observed 74,749 women from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS, 1984-2008) and 39,059 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS, 1986-2008) who were free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer at baseline.
Results: We documented 7370 incident cases of T2D during 24 y of follow-up in the NHS and 2865 new cases during 22 y of follow-up in the HPFS. After major lifestyle and dietary risk factors were controlled for, caffeinated and caffeine-free SSB intake was significantly associated with a higher risk of T2D in the NHS (RR per serving: 13% for caffeinated SSBs, 11% for caffeine-free SSBs; P < 0.05) and in the HPFS (RR per serving: 16% for caffeinated SSBs, 23% for caffeine-free SSBs; P < 0.01). Only caffeine-free ASB intake in NHS participants was associated with a higher risk of T2D (RR: 6% per serving; P < 0.001). Conversely, the consumption of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee was associated with a lower risk of T2D [RR per serving: 8% for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee in the NHS (P < 0.0001) and 4% for caffeinated and 7% for decaffeinated coffee in the HPFS (P < 0.01)]. Only caffeinated tea was associated with a lower T2D risk among NHS participants (RR per serving: 5%; P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Irrespective of the caffeine content, SSB intake was associated with a higher risk of T2D, and coffee intake was associated with a lower risk of T2D.