Today the Government has introduced a public consultation on its new plans to make it illegal to sell so-called ‘energy’ drinks to children. Energy drinks such as; Monster, Red Bull, and Lucozade tend to contain high levels of sugar, taurine and caffeine and have been linked to obesity and other health issues. Recently, in 2017 a 16-year-old boy, Davis Cripe – from South Caroline, USA – drank several ‘Mountain Dew’ energy drinks which ultimately caused his premature death. This led his parents and many campaigners in the US to lobby State Congress into banning the products for children.
In the UK however, the government has asked for opinions on what age the ban should apply to but has given under 16 and under 18 as options. The quantities of sugar and stimulants in energy drinks, many – including the Prime Minister – feel are contributing to the growing levels of obesity in young people in this country and in the most extreme circumstances can lead to heart disease and severe illness. The stimulant content of the drinks has also been linked to issues such as hyperactivity, sleep problems, and severe headaches, and their accessibility from vending machines and shops means that they are entirely unregulated.
The rate of consumption of the drinks has now become a concern for those even at the highest points of government - with Public Health Minister Steve Brine saying "We all have a responsibility to protect children from products that are damaging to their health and education, and we know that drinks packed to the brim with caffeine, and often sugar, are becoming a common fixture of their diet… Our children already consume 50% more of these drinks than our European counterparts, and teachers have made worrying links between energy drinks and poor behaviour in the classroom."
There is no doubt that many of the ‘market-leading’ energy drinks, when consumed in excess, can cause behavioural and physical health problems for children and young adults. Hence why the government has taken action on the products as part of its plans to reduce childhood obesity by 2030. Public Health England has responded by saying that the fundamental truth is, 'children do not need to consume these drinks.'
Caffeine and sugar in particular, when taken in excess, can lead to severe health issues, there are alternatives available on the market that we at Healthy Nibbles endorse. Nix & Kix, for example, is an energy drink with no caffeine and only 4g of sugar per can. Their energy boost comes from a natural hit of cayenne pepper. Tenzing is another alternative which only contains ingredients – and only 80mg of caffeine (from green coffee beans), while the rest is made up from green tea, lemon, and other natural ingredients. The fact is that many high street energy drinks are packed with sugar and are inherently unhealthy – but children and young adults under stress may resort to an energy drink for a pick-me-up. Enabling children to make a healthier choice will reduce their risk of ill health and improve behaviour in the classroom. For more information on how Healthy Nibbles can provide healthy snacks and drinks for your organisation contact firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website.
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