British Journal of Nutrition

  • British Journal of Nutrition / Volume 113 / Issue 02 / January 2015, pp 366-371
  • Copyright © The Authors 2015 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
  • DOI: (About DOI), Published online: 08 January 2015

Full Papers

Behaviour, Appetite and Obesity

Caffeine increases sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in a free-living population: a randomised controlled trial

Russell S. J. Keasta1, Boyd A. Swinburna2a3, Dhoungsiri Sayomparka1a4, Susie Whitelocka1 and Lynn J. Riddella1 c1

a1 Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia

a2 WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia

a3 School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

a4 Faculty of Science and Technology, Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok, Chonburi, Thailand


Excessive sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption has been associated with overweight and obesity. Caffeine is a common additive to SSB, and through dependence effects, it has the potential to promote the consumption of caffeine-containing foods. The objective of the present study was to assess the influence that caffeine has on the consumption of SSB. Participants (n 99) were blindly assigned to either a caffeinated SSB (C-SSB) or a non-caffeinated SSB (NC-SSB) group. Following randomisation, all participants completed a 9 d flavour-conditioning paradigm. They then completed a 28 d ad libitum intake intervention where they consumed as much or as little of C-SSB or NC-SSB as desired. The amount consumed (ml) was recorded daily, 4 d diet diaries were collected and liking of SSB was assessed at the start and end of the intervention. Participants (n 50) consuming the C-SSB had a daily SSB intake of 419 (sd 298) ml (785 (sd 559) kJ/d) over the 28 d intervention, significantly more than participants (n 49) consuming the NC-SSB (273 (sd 278) ml/d, 512 (sd 521) kJ/d) (P< 0·001). A trained flavour panel (n 30) found no difference in flavour between the C-SSB and NC-SSB (P>0·05). However, participants who consumed the C-SSB liked the SSB more than those who consumed the NC-SSB (6·3 v. 6·0 on a nine-point hedonic scale, P= 0·022). The addition of low concentrations of caffeine to the SSB significantly increases the consumption of the SSB. Regulating caffeine as a food additive may be an effective strategy to decrease the consumption of nutrient-poor high-energy foods and beverages.

(Received July 04 2014)

(Revised October 09 2014)

(Accepted October 22 2014)

Key Words:

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages;
  • Caffeine;
  • Free-living populations


c1 Corresponding author: Dr L. J. Riddell, fax +61 3 9244 6017, email


  Abbreviations: C-SSB, caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverage; NC-SSB, non-caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverage; SSB, sugar-sweetened beverage