Many coffee lovers would tell you that staying well caffeinated is a key part of their happiness, but is drinking coffee actually positively linked to well-being? A study published in PLOS A suggests that excessive coffee consumption may actually be weakly linked to decreased long-term happiness.
Well-being can be associated with many different factors, such as physical health, mental health, social relationships, and lifestyle choices. Healthy choices have been shown to lead to increased well-being and happiness.
Coffee consumption has been associated with lower levels of suicidality and depression in previous research, but research has not focused on the cumulative effect of coffee on well-being. This study aims to fill this gap, knowing that an absence of distress does not necessarily mean that there will be an increase in positive effects.
For their study, Farah Qureshi and her colleagues used data from a US longitudinal study of nurses. Data was extracted for participants who had taken measures of happiness or optimism, who also reported on their coffee consumption. To assess happiness, the sample was 44,449 participants and when assessing optimism, data was extracted from 36,729 participants. Participants completed measures of their coffee consumption, psychological well-being, happiness, health behaviors, demographics, and optimism over time.
The results showed a weak association between minimal coffee consumption and long-term well-being. Moderate coffee consumption had no significant relationship with happiness, while drinking more than 4 cups of coffee per day was associated with lower levels of lasting happiness. Moderate coffee consumption was weakly associated with more sustained optimism, but low and heavy coffee consumption was not.
“Although the observed associations between coffee consumption and psychological well-being were not appreciable, some small differences were evident,” the researchers said. “Given the large sample sizes used in the current analyses, this study was very powerful in detecting even minor differences between women of different levels of coffee consumption, possibly leading to the identification of associations with relevance limited clinic.”
Two-way analyzes showed that the influence of well-being on coffee consumption was also weak and inconsistent. These results are radically different from previous research, which highlighted the mental health benefits of drinking coffee.
“Prospective studies have found associations between coffee consumption and reduced risk of depression and suicide, as well as between psychological well-being and adoption of healthy behaviors over time,” the researchers noted. “However, the current study did not find substantial associations between coffee consumption and psychological well-being over up to 20 years of follow-up in a large-scale cohort of middle-aged and older women. .”
The study, “Prospective Associations Between Coffee Drinking and Psychological Well-Being,” was authored by Farah Qureshi, Meir Stampfer, Laura D. Kubzansky, and Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald.