UK policy makers should ban the sale of energy drinks to under-16s and clamp down on marketing targeted at children, a new report has urged.
The study, published today (21 July) by the Food Research Collaboration, argued energy drinks were not suitable for children because of their very high sugar and caffeine content, with a single can of drink often exceeding the safe daily caffeine limit for an average 11 year old.
The report cited European studies linking energy drinks to health complaints such as headaches, stomach aches and sleeping problems. Energy drink consumption was also “associated with risky behaviours such as binge drinking and drug use”.
In addition to limiting the sale and marketing of energy drinks to children, policy makers should explore “in-school interventions” and the implementation of “shared strategies on energy drinks and children by local and health authorities”, the report concluded.
“Children and teenagers are being deceived into drinking large cans of energy drinks, thinking they are going to improve their performance at school, during sports, or even on a night out,” said co-author Kawther Hashem, registered nutritionist and researcher at Action on Sugar based at Queen Mary University of London.
“In reality it is more likely increasing their risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental caries, which will have lifelong implications on their health. The government needs to set strict limits on added sugars in these products and ban the sale to children under 16 because of their high caffeine, calorie and sugar content.”