Once a popular part of the western diet, energy drinks could soon be banned to teenagers in England, under plans announced by Theresa May.
The scheme would bar shops from selling Red Bull and its caffeinated counterparts to under 16s and possibly also under 18s, in light of research which has linked excessive consumption of energy drinks to severe health problems in children.
Previous studies have claimed that UK adolescents are among the highest consumers of energy drinks in Europe, so the proposed ban is likely to affect a lot of youngsters.
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.
Many larger retailers and supermarkets have voluntarily stopped selling energy drinks to under-16s.
Theresa May has enlisted the ban in a bid to combat the rising levels of childhood obesity in the UK, which she describes as “one of the greatest health challenges this country faces”.
“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,” she said.
"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.
"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 government is seeking views on whether the sale of energy drinks to children should be stopped.
The consultation seeks views on a proposed ban on selling energy drinks to children.
It 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
To take part in this consultation, you can complete the online survey here.