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Brazil Seeks to Show
Coffee's Health Benefits

Brazil, the world's No. 1 coffee producer, hopes to convince people to drink up -- and ease a global crisis caused by oversupply -- by proving that coffee is good for you.

The country that offers school children "coffee breaks," plans to try to show that coffee can help reduce heart disease, countering the conventional wisdom that coffee causes health problems including anxiety and hypertension.

The Brazilian government is funding a study of 200,000 doctors to see if there is a link between heart disease and coffee consumption.

Professor Darcy Lima, who is leading the study, said it would make doctors' aware of the benefits of coffee.

"It's like the discovery that aspirin helped prevent heart attacks," said Lima, a professor at the Neurology Institute of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

He added that coffee made people alert and happy, noting the success of a "coffee break" program in Brazilian schools in which children were offered cups of milky coffee.

International Coffee Organization Director Nestor Osorio said Brazil's efforts to present a healthy image for coffee, as well as improvements in quality, would boost consumption.

"It could serve as a model for other producer countries," Osorio told Reuters.

A coffee industry survey identified health concerns as the main barrier to raising consumer demand.

Osorio, a Colombian, noted that Colombian coffee consumption stagnated for many years at around 1.4 million 130-pound bags, while in Brazil demand had risen by more than 5 million bags to 13.6 million in the past decade making it the world's No. 2 consumer.

Brazil is due in September 2004 to host an ICO summit - with the Presidents of Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and Brazil - to discuss coffee promotion and other steps to end a five-year global coffee crisis which has brought poverty to millions of coffee farmers.


Reference Source 89

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