This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.
In a perfect world, no one would ever think to do a YouTube search of “drinking five litres of bubble tea,” but since we live in one where people are doing just that, it’s worth noting that the search turns up dozens of unique results.
YouTubers from all over the world — mostly in Asian countries — have jumped on the bandwagon since the challenge emerged in early 2019. While most YouTubers aimed to finish the sugary drink in 12 hours, some did it in as little as three.
The recent spike in boba challenge videos prompted Dr. Gia Pratama, head doctor at South Jakarta’s Prikasih hospital emergency room, to speak out against the trend.
Dr. Pratama said these YouTubers run the risk of diabetes, heart failure, and liver failure. But they should know that already, right?
“There are roughly 5 litres of blood in the average human body, depending on height and weight. The normal blood sugar level is 1 gram per litre. If you have a sweet tooth but your pancreas still works, you’ll gain weight. If you continue to consume high amounts of sugar, it can turn into diabetes,” Pratama told local media.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that adults get no more than 10 percent of their daily calories from sugar; that’s 37.5 grams or 7.5 teaspoons of sugar per day for men, and 25 grams or 5 teaspoons for women.
We hate to burst your bubble but a large 473-milliliter boba milk tea contains roughly 36 grams of sugar. Five litres is equal to over 10 of those, totalling at least 360 grams of sugar.
Unfortunately, many of the influencers and YouTubers who did the boba challenge didn’t acknowledge the health risks of downing 5 litres of sugary milk tea in such a short span of time. The young people who watch them might be inclined to try the challenge themselves, which can potentially lead to illness.
This isn’t the first weird boba-related trend. In 2019, this time in Japan, a “hands-free” bubble tea challenge made waves on the internet, in which netizens posted photos of themselves propping up boba tea on their breasts. Japanese netizens also started the trend of taking selfies with boba pearls up their noses.