Wednesday, July 7, 2004

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Minä haluan toisen kupin kahvia!

Pop quiz -- which country has the highest rate of coffee consumption in the world?

The language used in the post title is your clue.

Answer below the fold....

It's Finland!!

This fact comes from Janet Helm in today's Chicago Tribune, who writes about the health benefits that come from coffee consumption. The highlights:

Though the virtues of coffee drinking may have been debated in the past, now there appear to be new reasons to rejoice over java. More and more studies have linked coffee consumption to a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, gallstones, colon cancer and potentially heart disease.

"Coffee has much more in it than caffeine," said Dr. PeMartin, director of the Vanderbilt University's Institute for Coffee Studies, which conducts medical research on coffee and is funded by a grant from a consortium of coffee-producing countries. "It's a very complex beverage that contains hundreds of compounds, including many with antioxidant effects."

Though the tea industry has been touting its antioxidants, turns out coffee may contain even more--specifically polyphenols. One of the most potent antioxidants in coffee is called chlorogenic acid, which is partially responsible for the coffee flavor. Some reports estimate that more than 850 compounds are packed inside the humble bean....

Some of the strongest and latest research may be the connection between coffee drinking and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, a growing health epidemic that is closely linked to the rising rates of obesity.

In Finland, where coffee consumption is higher than anywhere else in the world, researchers found that coffee appeared to have a protective effect against the development of type 2 diabetes. The more cups of coffee consumed, the greater the protection.

Published in the March 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study examined the coffee-drinking habits of 6,974 Finnish men and 7,655 women. After a 12-year follow-up, women drinking three to four cups of coffee a day experienced a 29 percent reduced risk of diabetes, while risk dropped by 79 percent for women who drank 10 or more cups a day.

For men in the study, drinking three to four cups of coffee a day was associated with a 27 percent lower risk for diabetes. Those men who drank 10 or more cups lowered their risk by 55 percent.

A second study examining an even larger population in the United States found similar results. After analyzing data on 126,000 people for as long as 18 years, Harvard researchers found that having six or more cups of coffee each day slashed men's risk of type 2 diabetes by 54 per-cent and women's by 30 percent compared to those who avoid coffee. Decaffeinated coffee had a weaker effect. The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Before anyone starts consuming Brad DeLongish or Jacob Levyesque levels of coffee, be sure to read the caveat:

Though coffee may offer a bundle of benefits, nutritionists warn that you should choose your coffee drinks wisely. Some coffees--particularly the frozen or sweetened iced drinks--can pack a powerful caloric punch. Many are more like liquid candy or a slice of cheesecake than coffee. For instance, a 24-ounce Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino with whipped cream at Starbucks contains a whopping 780 calories and 19 grams of fat. A regular run for these drinks can pack on the pounds.

For college students, a study in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests fancy coffee concoctions may be contributing to the "freshman 15." Researchers at Simmons College in Boston found that students who regularly drank gourmet coffees--cafe mochas, frozen coffee beverages and the like--consumed an extra 206 calories and 32 grams of sugar a day.

posted by Dan on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM


Your Finnish is a bit off. It should be:

"Minä haluan toisen kupin kahvia."

posted by: Juha Seppälä on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

Klingon is *not* a country, you f'n earth weasel!

posted by: Klaatu on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

Correction made -- that's what I get for using a new web translation page.

Intriguingly, that same site translates your phrase into: "Ego desirous secondly kupin coffee!"

posted by: Dan Drezner on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

I spent two weeks in eastern Finland last year, in the city of Joensuu. Some thought that I drank a lot of coffee. Makes me think...

posted by: Dennis Josefsson on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

It's the climate, and the grey skies. My mother, a Swede, drank it by the gallon. She was a spidery little woman; somehow, the cup would hold still even when her fingers would shake. Along about the eighth or ninth cup (for the day), she might say:

"Somehow, coffee doesn't taste as good as it used to ..."

posted by: Buce on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

You learn something new every day. In honor of the Finnish people's shared addiction, I have put an extra pot on this morning. =)

posted by: russ on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

Does Finland have a Starbucks yet?

posted by: Zach on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

I hear there's also a direct correlation between coffee consumption and trips to the john. Er, if you'll excuse me...

posted by: Michael Ubaldi on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

Worse, note that the "Strawberries & Crème" has NO COFFEE, it has "Strawberries and milk blended with ice, topped with whipped cream."

posted by: mitt on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

Those men who drank 10 or more cups lowered their risk by 55 percent...

...And increased their risk of spontaneously drumming "Wipeout" on their dashboards 87 percent.

posted by: Fresh Air on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

Dan, you're wrong. Thanks to me, the US has the highest rate. I'm the jackpot number that was never polled.

posted by: ch2 on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

Creo que les puede interesar.
Saludos afectuosos.


posted by: Claude J. Guinchard on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

Hmmm: correlation vs causality...

A deeper cause perhaps: Maybe orally(*) nevrotic people who deal with it by downing coffee more so than by downing calories(snacks, alcohol)..put less stress on their blood-sugar regulating system over time. Us orals eat a lot of carbo bombs impulsively while on empty stomachs, asking our pancreas and company to intercept a vertical takeoff in blood sugar.

(*) By orally, yeah I am thinking in pseudoFreudian terms. Those same tendancies could also appear as verbosity, chewing on stuff, typing lots and lots of email, elaborating boring inconsequential comments on blogs, addressed at people you don't know, oops sorry, my espresso machine is ready to go again, so I'll just hit "send" here, no wait! PS. coffee is supposed tobe good for your teeth too, had to throw that in. Oh, and PPPS, did they control whether/how much sugar these people were putting in their coffee?..

posted by: Bryan Travis on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

The data are correlational, and it's easy to imagine explanations in terms of something like lifestyle - for example, people who drink more coffee may have more income, more education, and more knowledge about nutrition. Especially with the quantities this report calls for - where I work, ten cups of coffee per workday would run about $2500 per year, and those are after-tax dollars.

Still, it may also be that coffee has this effect. The way to tell is to do some animal work - if you have an animal model of diabetes, randomly assign animals of that type to big doses of coffee or no coffee and check both groups for diabetes after some time. With the human correlational data, the animal experimental data, and a plausible biological mechanism, you could draw the cause-effect conclusion.

posted by: Patrick Brown on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

The diabetes link: perhaps when you drink coffee, you're not stuffing your fat face or pouring corn syrup down your neck (i.e. Coke/Pepsi)

posted by: Smarty Pants on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

just a comment on correlation and income levels. having lived in the Balkans and eastern Europe for several years, i can say that many people will sacrifice almost anything as long as they have bread and coffee. in the Balkans, Turkish coffee (do they get a better health pay-off because the bean is actually floating around in the cup?) is the drink of choice at any given time of the day, and even the poorest pensioner has her morning and afternoon coffee. i don't think income correlates for a large part of the coffee-drinking world.

posted by: RW on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

It has quite a strong correlation at low income levels. In many coffee-producing countries coffee drinking is not that common. Coffee consumption in Peru, for example, is low (most goes for export). By comparison, in much more affluent Costa Rica, where I live, coffee consumption is huge. Ticos wouldn't know what to do without their morning cafecito. Pretty much everyone I know, for example, drinks at least three to four mugs (not cups) per day. In my office of thirteen people, the industrial size drip machine gets refilled twice per day. Weekends are a treat for me when I get through about three litres of gourmet coffee brewed in my stainless steel cafetière (the choice of connoisseurs.) Of course it helps that Costa Rica produces some of the finest quality beans on the planet and I can buy a 12oz bag of shade-grown SHB Arabica for four bucks.

posted by: David Gillies on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

When I first moved to Sweden, I got a wicked coffee buzz, making the rounds to visit my in-laws. Herregud! Vilket starkt kaffe!

posted by: Karen on 07.07.04 at 11:36 AM [permalink]

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