Government consulting on the possible banning of the sale of energy to children and young people Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Consultation is part of the government’s plan to reduce childhood obesity and other health problems in children

The government is seeking views from the public on ending the sale of energy drinks to children and young people in England.

The proposed ban would apply to drinks that contain more than 150mg of caffeine per litre. It would prevent all retailers from selling these drinks to children.

It follows the publication of the latest chapter of the government’s childhood obesity plan in June 2018. This outlined a series of measures as well as a commitment to halve childhood obesity by 2030.

Cans of soft drink. Cooling frozen and with water drops. Image: Open Government Licence v3.0

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“Childhood obesity is one of the greatest health challenges this country faces, and that’s why we are taking significant action to reduce the amounts of sugar consumed by young people and to help families make healthier choices.

“With thousands of young people regularly consuming energy drinks, often because they are sold at cheaper prices than soft drinks, we will consult on banning the sale of energy drinks to children.”

Major retailers already have a voluntary ban

Energy drinks are already banned for sale to children by many major retailers. However, children can still buy them from vending machines and many independent convenience stores.

More than two-thirds of 10- to 17-year-olds and a quarter of 6- to 9-year-olds consume energy drinks. A 250ml can of energy drink can contains around 80mg of caffeine. This is the equivalent of nearly 3 cans of cola.

Questions in the consultation include:

  • whether the restrictions should apply to children under 16 or under 18
  • whether the law should be changed to prevent children from buying them in any situation

 

Public Health Minister, Steve Brine MP, said:

“Our teenagers already consume 50% more of these drinks than European counterparts, and teachers have made worrying links between energy drinks and poor behaviour in the classroom.

“We are asking the public for their views on the matter, to ensure energy drinks are not being excessively consumed by children.”

Energy drinks contain more sugar and calories

On average, non-diet energy drinks also contain 60% more calories and 65% more sugar than other, regular soft drinks.

Excessive consumption has been linked to a number of health issues in children, including:

  • headaches
  • sleep problems
  • stomach aches
  • hyperactivity

The Prime Minister said:

“It is vital that we do all we can to make sure children have the best start in life and I encourage everyone to put forward their views.”

The consultation also asks for views on:

  • What products should be included in any restrictions
  • What age limit a ban should apply to
  • Whether sales of energy drinks from vending machines should be restricted
  • Whether there are any changes that would be more appropriate than a ban on sales to children or that could be applied as well as a ban

It can be found here