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Study finds new evidence that suggests energy drinks are dangerous for children

A new study has outlined the sale of energy drinks to children should be banned following a review of the latest evidence on their health effects.

The study, which was published on Monday on Science Direct, highlights that there are more risks than previously discovered when it comes to children drinking energy drinks. Commonly, the drinks often contain a lot of caffeine and sugar and as a result, researchers are calling for a complete ban of selling them to children in shops.

five Monster Energy cans

Despite the majority of supermarkets introducing a ban to stop selling energy drinks to children under the age of 16, a complete ban, which would also cover smaller retailers, was proposed in England and Scotland in 2019.

Currently, the packaging on energy drinks claims they aren’t suitable for children, yet researchers discovered they can easily be bought by under 18s from corner shops.

Dr Amelia Lake, professor of public health at Teesside University, who led the review, examined 57 other studies that included energy drinks and their impact on young people’s health. More than one million children from 21 countries were included in the research.

Dr Lake said: ‘The evidence is clear that energy drinks are harmful to the mental and physical health of children and young people, as well as their behaviour and education.

‘We need to take action now to protect them from these risks.’

Although Dr Lake said the research couldn’t prove that energy drinks directly cause health harms to children as dietary studies are always observational, the findings were the best available evidence. Following this, experts uncovered that drinking energy drinks regularly can cause young people to use drugs, be violence and engage in unsafe sex.

In addition, they can also influence sleep problems, poor performance at school and an unhealthy diet.

In response to the new study, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We consulted on a proposal to end the sale of energy drinks to children under 16 in England and will set out our full response in due course.

‘In the meantime, many larger retailers and supermarkets have voluntarily introduced a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children under 16.’  

Image: Christian Wiediger

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