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National campaign aims to restrict sale of energy drinks

05 January 2018


A Teesside University academic is part of a national campaign fronted by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver calling for age restrictions on the sale of energy drinks.

Dr Amelia Lake, Reader in Public Health Nutrition in the University’s School of Science, Engineering & Design, joins Jamie Oliver, parents, academics and teachers, who are all calling for age restrictions on the sale of energy drinks to children under the age of 16.

Dr Lake is also Associate Director of Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, a collaboration of North East Universities. It recently published research which found energy drinks were being sold to children ‘cheaper than water and pop’. The research also revealed that around one in three young people say that they regularly consume energy drinks, which typically contain high levels of caffeine and sugar.

Jamie Oliver is part of an on-going campaign to combat diet related disease. In a recent episode of Friday Night Feast he explored how energy drinks impact children and is asking why they are sold to under 16s when ‘not recommended for children’ is printed on every can of energy drink.

He said: ‘If the energy drink industry is literally telling us their products are ‘not recommended for children’ on the cans, why can kids as young as 10 buy them whenever they want?

‘This consumption is compromising our kids and our teachers too – we have to do something about it. We urgently need the government to step up and put age restrictions on the sale of energy drinks to all under 16s.’

Dr Lake added: ‘Our review of the evidence has clearly shown these energy drinks are harmful for under 18s.

‘Their consumption is associated with a range of negative effects and unhealthy behaviours, including physical health complaints, such as headaches, palpitations and insomnia, and higher rates of alcohol, smoking and drug use.’

Our review of the evidence has clearly shown these energy drinks are harmful for under 18s.

Dr Amelia Lake

This work supports the University's Grand Challenge Research Theme of Health and Wellbeing which is part of a wider aim to address some of the global challenges of our time through focus on externally facing research which makes a real, practical difference to the lives of people, along with the success of businesses and economies.

Waitrose has already banned the sale of energy drinks to under 16s and now campaigners want more rigorous action to be taken.

The National Education Union, the largest education union, has backed the campaign and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, said: ‘Schools do all they can to provide an environment conducive to learning, but they can’t control what’s on sale beyond the school gates. If the Government is serious about protecting children, it needs to put their interests before the profits of the energy drinks industry and ban the sale of these harmful products to under 16s.’

On average, young people in the UK consume more energy drinks than those in other European countries. Sales of energy drinks in the UK increased by 185% between 2006 and 2015, with 672 million litres drunk in 2015 and a total market value of over £2 billion.

A single can of popular brands on the market can contain around 160mg of caffeine, while the European Food Safety Authority recommends an intake of no more than 105mg caffeine per day for an average 11-year-old.