Ban energy drink sales to U16s, says Irish Heart Foundation
After calls by a UK politician for a ban on under-16s purchasing energy drinks, the Irish Heart Foundation has weighed in on the topic, urging the Irish government to explore similar measures.
31 August 2018
The Irish government should follow England’s lead to ban energy drink sales to children, the Irish heart Foundation has said. The comments come as the UK government has said it is seeking views from the public on ending the sale of energy drinks such as Monster and Red Bull to children and young people.
Kathryn Reilly, policy manager with the Irish Heart Foundations said that by recognising that energy drinks are not suitable for children as a result of their high sugar and caffeine content, the UK Government is being proactive in promoting children’s health.
“It is now time for the Irish Government to follow suit,” Reilly said. “Indeed, alongside a future report on reformulation and reformulation targets for the industry, this measure must be advanced.”
The consultation currently underway in Britain proposes banning the sale of drinks that contain more than 150mg of caffeine per litre to children.
Energy drinks are already banned for sale to children in the UK by many major retailers, but children can still buy them from vending machines and many independent convenience stores, for example.
A 250ml can of energy drink can contains around 80mg of caffeine – the equivalent of nearly three cans of cola. On average, non-diet energy drinks also contain 60% more calories and 65% more sugar than other, regular soft drinks.
The plans were first announced in June this year as well as a commitment to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030.
Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged that childhood obesity is one of the greatest health challenges the UK is facing. “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,” May said.
Sarah Noone, expert dietitian with the Irish Heart Foundation welcomed the prospect. “Energy drinks are very high in sugar,” Noone said, “and these additional calories with no nutritional value can lead to unwanted weight gain and potentially contribute to increasing levels of childhood obesity seen in Ireland.”
WHO guidelines recommend a maximum of six teaspoons of added sugar a day for 6-11-year olds and a maximum of five teaspoons for 4-6 year olds. Energy drinks can contain around seven teaspoons of sugar in one 250ml can.