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Time to take energy drinks off the menu for under-16s

We are urgently calling on policy makers to reignite plans to restrict sales of energy drinks to children, after a new evidence review of the effects of energy drinks on children revealed wider ranging risks of mental and physical health problems associated with consumption.

A new study published in the Public Health journal adds further worrying evidence that consumption of energy drinks high in caffeine and sugar can be harmful to the health of children and young people. In the comprehensive study, researchers from Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health at Teesside University and Newcastle University, looked at data from 57 studies of over 1.2 million children and young people from more than 21 countries.

Additional health effects noted in the research review include increased risk of suicidal thoughts, psychological distress, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, depressive and panic behaviours, allergic diseases, insulin resistance, and of course tooth decay. The study also links consumption of the drinks with an increased risk of poor academic performance, sleep problems and less healthy dietary patterns. Energy drink consumption has also been associated with increased risky behaviours such as substance abuse, violence, and unsafe sex.

We have joined over 40 health organisations, researchers, and public health leaders to make urgent appeals to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Victoria Atkins, and her shadow Wes Streeting, asking them how much more evidence is needed before the Government keeps a promise to restrict sales of high caffeine energy drinks to under-16s.

These drinks are habit forming, highly acidic and can contain over 20 teaspoons of sugar. They need to be taken off the menu for children.

Prevention is better than cure

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