KUALA LUMPUR, August 13 — Bubble tea can lead to weight gain as a cup contains 20 teaspoons of sugar on average, according to a physician and dietitian.
In a Columbia Asia article printed in The Star, consultant physician Dr Tan Wee Yong said a healthy adult is recommended to consume below eight teaspoons of sugar daily.
“Bubble tea can definitely make you gain weight as it adds on to your daily calorie intake. One cup of bubble tea can contain at least 370 calories. The boba (or ‘bubble’) alone is 150 calories,” dietitian Kong Woan Fei was quoted saying.
“We term sugar as an ‘empty calorie’ food. This means that it only contains calories, but has no other nutritional value. There is no nutritional value from drinking a high-sugar beverage. I don’t encourage consuming milk from bubble tea either, because milk with sugar is not the same as pure milk.”
Kong pointed out that a cup of brown sugar bubble tea contained three times as much sugar as a can of soft drink.
“Drinking bubble tea will not cause diabetes directly. However, its sugar content can pose a high risk of not only diabetes, but also low immunity, accelerated ageing and tooth decay,” said Kong.
The dietitian said although one may perceive brown sugar and fresh milk as healthier ingredients, it’s pertinent to ask how much brown sugar is contained in a cup of bubble tea.
“And what about the other ingredients, specifically the boba? Of course, requesting for less sugar or no sugar is better, but you still cannot categorise this as a harmless drink in view of the other ingredients.”
Dr Tan similarly said consuming a bubble tea with “less sugar” may not necessarily make the drink harm-free, as other foods typically consumed every day contain lots of hidden sugar.
He also advised young children and the elderly not to consume bubble tea, due to food colouring and additives that can cause hyperactivity in the former and indigestion in the latter.
The bubble tea craze has swept Malaysia, but the made-to-order drink escapes the sugar tax that only affects pre-packaged sugar-sweetened beverages like carbonated drinks and juices.