Bubble Tea, Other Drinks in Taiwan Contain Excessive Calories: Study

taiwan bubble tea
Photo courtesy John Tung Foundation

Many common drinks from chain stores in Taiwan contain an unhealthy calorie count, according to a study conducted by John Tung Foundation, Food and Nutrition Division and published on Monday.

Three years after Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standardized beverage labels, some companies still don’t have accurate labels for calories and ingredients, UDN reported. The tapioca “pearls” in bubble tea and red beans in other beverages make calculating calories difficult for some shops. Some shops only label the amount of sugar in a drink, but not the volume of the beverage.

Between May and June this year, the John Tung Foundation collected samples from 18 beverage chains in Taipei and analyzed the contents of 67 drinks. It found that the calorie count for the same drink from different shops can differ by 4.2 times.

The study found that three shops did not even have labels for the drinks, while others noted on labels that the calories and sugar content could not be calculated.

The added ingredients, such as red bean and bubble milk tea pearls, can add significantly more calories to a beverage. In some cases, these drinks exceed the recommended daily calorie intake for adults, which is 2000 calories. It is recommended that sugar not account for more than 10% of a person’s daily calories, which is equal to about 50 grams of sugar. There is as much as 91 grams of sugar in bubble milk tea from some shops.

John Tung Foundation Food and Nutrition Division Director Hsu Hui-yu (許惠玉) said that excessive sugar consumption is a health risk and Taiwan should consider a sugar tax to reduce the amount used in beverages.

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