Tweens love boba tea. But is the caffeine and sugar too much?

Tweens love boba tea. But is the caffeine and sugar too much?
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Tweens love boba tea. But is the caffeine and sugar too much?

Boba tea, also known as bubble tea, is gaining popularity on TikTok and captivating the hearts of young people. The drink originated in Taiwan, featuring milky, sugary, iced black tea with tapioca "pearls," flavored syrups, fruit blends, and other toppings. Introduced to the U.S. in the '90s, it has become a favorite among American tweens of all backgrounds, driven by TikTok trends and associations with K-pop stars like Blackpink. Boba tea shops are now popular after-school hangouts and a preferred destination for tween birthday parties.

Why Do Kids Love Boba Tea?

Megan Kinch, a mom in Toronto, Canada, shares that her daughter Esther, 11, loves bubble tea for its variety of flavors and visual appeal. Esther and her friends enjoy the diverse flavor options and find it both pretty and tasty. LaToya Jordan from New York mentions that her daughter Billie, 11, appreciates the tapioca pearls, and many friends also enjoy boba, making it a lunchtime treat.

Kate Wehr's daughter Rebekha, 12, prefers "popping boba" – pearls that burst when consumed. Rebekha even had a boba-themed birthday party, a trend noticed by other tweens. Billie had a similar celebration, highlighting the cultural significance of boba paraphernalia and the overall trendiness.

Concerns about Caffeine and Sugar

Parents may wonder about the health impact of the caffeine and sugar in boba tea. Megan Kinch sees it as a healthier option than soda, emphasizing its suitability for tweens to experiment with tea and sugar drinks. LaToya Jordan is okay with a moderate boba habit, while Dr. Anh Le, a pediatrician, considers boba a "treat" food due to its minimal health benefits.

Dr. Le advises moderation due to the high sugar content, which can lead to weight gain, heart disease, fatty liver, and diabetes. A 16-ounce serving of boba tea contains nearly 40 grams of sugar, comparable to soda or orange juice. Dr. Amy Middleman suggests offering such treats in moderation, ensuring a balanced nutritional intake.

Caffeine Considerations

Dr. Anh Le emphasizes the need to be mindful of caffeine intake, as excessive caffeine can affect sleep, increase irritability, and impact concentration. Parents should limit caffeine in younger kids and ensure safe levels for teens. Depending on the type of tea used, an 8-ounce boba tea may contain 30-50 mg of caffeine.

Despite concerns, Megan Kinch believes worries about kids drinking boba are overblown. She sees it as an expression of independence and personal taste. Dr. Le recommends choosing herbal teas or fruit slushies, asking for low-sugar options, and avoiding oversized drinks to keep boba tea on the healthier side. Involving children in these decisions helps establish healthy habits early on.

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