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Growing calls for a ban on the sale energy drinks to children

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With soft drinks producers still reeling from the impending introduction of the sugar tax, calls are growing for sale of energy drinks to children to be banned.

Recent research led by Newcastle University found that around one in three young people are regularly consuming energy drinks, which typically contain high levels of caffeine and sugar.  It pointed to the “well documented” dangers of energy drinks with evidence indicating that regular or heavy use by under-18s is likely to be detrimental to their health.

The experts discovered that energy drinks were easily available to children as young as 10 in local shops, with some lines on promotion sold for as little as 25p per can.

Dr Shelina Visram, from Newcastle University’s Institute of Health and Society, led the study in collaboration with Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health.  She said: “This study looked at the complex mix of factors that impact on children and young people’s attitudes in relation to energy drinks. Our participants were generally aware of the main energy drink brands, ingredients and potential health risks. But they were also confused by the mixed messages from the soft drinks industry.

“By law, energy drink labels must include the warning ‘not recommended for children’ and yet participants as young as 10 years of age told us they could purchase these products in almost any shop, at affordable prices.”

She added: “This study provides important insights into the consumption choices of children and young people, and highlights the key role played by the marketing activities of energy drink companies. The findings should be used to inform policies and interventions that address the behaviours of manufacturers and retailers as well as children and parents.”

Commenting on the study, Norman Lamb, chair of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, told the BBC: “Given epidemic levels of consumption among under-16s we have to consider the banning the sales of these drinks to that group.”

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