KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — A health think tank warned Malaysians that a bubble tea drink has twice the amount of sugar as a can of cola.
Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib also noted that a medium cup of bubble tea had the same amount of calories as a cheesecake slice.
“The long term potential for harm to people who drink a lot of bubble tea is high,” Azrul said.
According to Mount Alvernia Hospital from Singapore, 18.5 teaspoons of sugar are added into the making of a brown sugar milk tea drink with pearls, making it the sweetest bubble tea beverage.
Winter melon tea contains 16 teaspoons of sugar. A medium-sized 500ml bubble milk tea with pearls and mango green tea each contains eight teaspoons of sugar.
The amount of calories found in various kinds of bubble tea toppings are also illustrated. Black tapioca pearls, which is one of the most common toppings in bubble tea drinks, contain 156 calories.
“Ultimately, bubble tea is still considered a sugar-sweetened beverage – placing it among the likes of soft drinks, energy drinks and 3-in-1 instant coffees and teas,” said Mount Alvernia Hospital.
Studies conducted on bubble tea show alarming results which have an influence on the spread of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and obesity, according to Azrul.
Consumers who drink a lot of bubble tea, which contains sugar, milk and non-dairy creamer, could potentially increase the risk of chronic diseases, he added.
Free Malaysia Today reported that it found nine bubble tea shops in Subang Jaya’s SS15 area, all of which are very close to each other. Their targeted customers are university students.
“Consumers could make such drinks healthier by asking for less sugar and fresh, low-fat or skimmed milk instead of non-dairy creamer. They should also forego the toppings,” said Azrul.
He added that there is a lack of warning and information about the dangerous sugar levels in bubble tea as the business continues to grow in Malaysia.
Malaysia’s sugar tax is only imposed on pre-packaged sugar-sweetened beverages, not made-to-order drinks like bubble tea or “teh tarik”.