With its colorful beads and gelatinous texture, bubble tea is all the rage with young people. The problem ? It could make you “addicted” and lead to various depressive disorders, according to researchers.
Fun and refreshing, bubble tea appeals to as many people as possible. But behind its attractive appearance, this Instagrammable drink from Taiwan is not harmless. According to a recent study reported in the Journal of Affective Disorders, it is associated with a high risk of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
An ultra-sweet drink that’s addictive
To better understand the effects of this milk drink (made from tea, milk, sugar and tapioca pearls, editor’s note) ; a research team questioned more than 5,000 young people – whose ages range from 15 to 24 – about their consumption habits and their mental health.
However, more than half of them revealed “drink at least once a week” a bubble tea.
The scientists then analyzed the drink’s addictiveness using the DSM-5, a diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders and psychiatric disorders from the American Psychiatric Association.
Result: almost half of the students had an “addiction” to bubble tea.
“Results indicate that consumption of bubble tea may lead to symptoms of addiction, including frequency, dependence/craving, intention to quit, inability to quit, tolerance, and feelings of guilt“, reveal the researchers.
Another edifying finding from the study: high consumption of bubble tea seemed associated with a high risk of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts… even if no obvious causal link could be proven.
A feeling of guilt “which can be difficult to manage”
Results, which only half surprise Vanessa Bedjaï-Haddad; dietician-nutritionist.
“Contrary to what its name might suggest, bubble tea is absolutely not a healthy drink. Over the years, this drink has become more and more complex and has become more and more colorful, more and more caloric (syrup, fruit, milk, chocolate, caramel, whipped cream, etc.) to the point where it is today sweeter than a simple soda (100 calories per 100 ml). It therefore has very few benefits and has nothing to do with a cup of tea“, says the expert.”Addiction to this drink can therefore be explained by the excessive intake of sugars (which promotes rapid secretion of insulin, editor’s note) but also and above all by its playful aspect: each time we sip a bubble tea, the experience is fun, different. Manufacturers also play a lot on the textures, flavors and colors of this drink.“, warns the dietician-nutritionist.
According to her, the pleasure of bubble tea can quickly be overtaken by a feeling of guilt, “which can be difficult to manage“. Anxiety disorders can then appear.
The right attitude to adopt, ultimately?
“Treat yourself to bubble tea, yes, provided that this consumption remains occasional“, concludes the expert.