More energy drinks

The Labour Party is drawing up plans to ban the sale of energy drinks to under-16s, in a move welcomed by campaigners after recent evidence emerged on the health risks to young people.

The proposal has been put forward for inclusion in the party’s manifesto, according to a report by Sky News over the weekend.

The move comes after more than 40 health groups wrote to the government and Labour demanding the revival of shelved government plans to restrict sales of energy drinks to children. That followed a review of data published last month by Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, based at Teesside University and Newcastle University, which claimed energy drink consumption was linked to suicidal thoughts, psychological distress and other symptoms in children.

Read more: What will a Labour government mean for food and farming?

It is the latest indication that Labour will take a tougher approach to public health policy than the current government if it wins the general election.

It follows a pledge by leader Keir Starmer that Labour would revive the delayed ban on junk food ads before a 9pm watershed on TV and ban ads online.

Last week, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting also announced plans to “steamroll” the industry into supporting the marketing of healthier products.

Read more: Wes Streeting’s steamroller is heading in the food industry’s direction

Labour’s reported move was welcomed by Children’s Food campaign manager Barbara Crowther, who said: “Energy drinks companies shouldn’t be allowed to increase profits at the expense of child health. All evidence points to these heavily caffeinated drinks being harmful to children’s health.

“We’re excited to hear that Labour has listened to public and health experts’ concerns about energy drinks. The government promised in 2019 that it would ban sales to under-16s but didn’t actually do it.

“There is also a lot of support for this measure from supermarkets who are already restricting sales to children voluntarily – they know that to reduce children’s consumption of potentially harmful drinks, there needs to be a ban on selling to them everywhere. With evidence growing on both mental and physical harms of these drinks, it’s time for action.”