Should it be illegal to sell energy drinks to children? We think so.

Fizzy drinks

The government has launched a public consultation on its plans to make it illegal to sell energy drinks to children under the age of 18.

Energy drinks are soft drinks that contain higher levels of caffeine than other soft drinks, and may also contain a lot of sugar. Evidence suggests that excessive consumption of energy drinks by children is linked to negative health outcomes such as headaches, sleeping problems, irritation and tiredness.

Rob Percival, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Food for Life commented:

"Food for Life supports this proposed ban on the sale of energy drinks to children. Teachers have said that these drinks are disruptive to some children's behaviour and learning in school, affecting both the children that drink them and their peers. These drinks are nutritionally worthless, offering nothing more than a dose of sugar, caffeine and additives. Children will be better off without them."

Under current labelling rules, any drink, other than tea or coffee, that contains over 150mg of caffeine per litre requires a warning label saying: ‘High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breast-feeding women’. Despite the warning labels, however, children are still consuming these drinks; recent evidence shows that more than two thirds of UK children aged 10-17, and nearly a quarter of those aged 6-9, are energy drink consumers.

Have your say

The consultation follows strong calls from parents, health professionals, teachers and some industry bodies and retailers for an end to sales of high-caffeine energy drinks to children.

It 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

Click here to take part in the consultation the deadline for responding is 21 November 2018.