Department of Health and Social Care
Opens: 30 August 2018
Closes: 21 November 2018
Energy drinks are soft drinks that contain higher levels of caffeine than other soft drinks, and may also contain a lot of sugar (though low- or zero-calorie energy drinks are available). Evidence suggests that excessive consumption of energy drinks by children is linked to negative health outcomes such as headaches, sleeping problems, irritation and tiredness.
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.
We are hearing 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. Many larger retailers and supermarkets have voluntarily stopped selling energy drinks to under-16s. While we recognise the efforts of retailers who have already acted, there are still many retailers who continue to sell these drinks to children. Legislating to end the sale of high-caffeine energy drinks to children would create a level playing field for businesses and create consistency, helping ensure that children do not have access to energy drinks in any shop.
We are therefore consulting on ending the sale of energy drinks to children, but we are aware that the evidence base around these products and their effects is complex. We want to use this consultation to gather further views and evidence on the advantages and disadvantages of ending the sale of energy drinks to children, and on alternative options, before making a decision.
Consultation on ending the sale of energy drinks to children PDF, 269KB, 12 pages
Impact assessment: ending the sale of energy drinks to children PDF, 644KB, 46 pages
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Department of Health and Social Care 30 August 2018