Does Coffee Improve Wellbeing?

Over 50% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee in the US, that’s over 150 million people. Many of those who drink coffee say coffee is important to their overall happiness, especially in the mornings, but is it really? While studies have shown that coffee is linked with lower levels of depression and suicide, there is a gap in the research to show an improvement to overall wellness. Wellness, in this study, looks a long-term positive effects, not just at the reduction of distress.

The study took data from a longitudinal study of female nurses in the US. 36,729 participants were asked to complete a variety of measure in the original longitudinal study, but this current study only chose some data from it. The data contained measures on wellbeing, optimism over time, coffee consumption, demographics, health behaviors, and happiness.

The results were a bit surprising. Only those that drank coffee minimally (<1 cup/day) showed an association with long-term wellbeing, but it was a weak association. Those who were heavy coffee drinkers (≥4 cups/day) actually had a lower likelihood of sustained happiness. Moderate coffee drinkers (1–3 cups/day) had a weak association with sustained optimism but not happiness. The researchers did secondary analyses on the data, which showed “high levels of optimism but not happiness levels were modestly associated with increased likelihood of sustained moderate coffee intake.”

The results show a weak and inconsistent influence of coffee on a coffee drinker’s wellbeing, which is in contrast to other research on the effects of coffee and the reduced risk of depression and suicide, as mentioned earlier. While not mentioned in the study itself, or the article, the study was done on midlife and older women in one particular field, which is a big limitation of the study.

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