Jan. 15, 2024 – The study’s authors suspect that the youths have turned to milk tea as a coping mechanism or a means to regulate emotions. They believe addiction to the sugary drink could be just as damaging as addiction to social media or drugs. A recent study from China has revealed significant links between milk tea consumption, addiction and mental health issues among youths.

Key findings: The study, which was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders last November, found that consumption of milk tea might lead to symptoms of addiction such as craving or dependency, inability to stop and guilty feelings. A higher level of addiction was significantly associated with a higher risk of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

How the study was conducted: Researchers from Tsinghua University and the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing surveyed 5,281 students from the Chinese capital. Nearly half of all the participants reported having at least one cup of milk tea each week.

To measure levels of addiction, the researchers developed a milk tea addiction scale based on substance use guidelines from the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The participants also reported whether they had symptoms related to anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.