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DHSC Publication, 25 March 2019
Government Response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on Energy drinks and children
A copy of this publication is availabe on this site (click on image).
Provided uder the Open Government Licence. The original document was accessed from: .
The text of the Introduction and Overviw are given below:
This paper sets out the Government’s response to the conclusions and recommendations made in the Science and Technology Select Committee’s report Energy drinks and children..
Energy drinks contain higher levels of caffeine than other soft drinks (for example colas), and may also contain a lot of sugar (although low- or zero-calorie energy drinks are also available). 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’. The amount of caffeine in milligrams per 100ml of drink must also be stated on the label.
Evidence suggests that excessive consumption of caffeine by children can be linked to negative health outcomes in some children, affecting anxiety, as well as sleep latency and duration. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) derived a safety level for caffeine of 3mg per kilogram body weight per day for both single doses and habitual consumption.
Some evidence has also linked energy drink consumption with depressive symptoms, emotional difficulties and lower well-being among children and adolescents. One study in New Zealand found that depressive symptoms were 11% higher and 'total difficulties' were 25% higher in those who consumed energy drinks 4 or more times a week compared to those who never consumed energy drinks.
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 children under 16 years of age. While we recognise the efforts of retailers who have already acted, there are still many retailers who continue to sell these drinks to children.
In the second chapter of our world-leading childhood obesity plan, published in June 2018, we committed to consult on our intention to introduce legislation ending the sale of energy drinks to children. The consultation closed in November and received a high level of interest. The consultation asked whether ending the sale of energy drinks to children by all retailers is the right approach to take to prevent children from consuming excessive amounts of energy drinks. We are proposing that if a restriction on the sale of energy drinks to children is introduced, the drinks in scope would be any drink, other than tea or coffee, which contains over 150mg of caffeine per litre and under current EU laws are required to state ‘High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breast-feeding women’ on the label. We will use the feedback to the 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.
We welcome the work of the Science and Technology Select Committee in this area and the report of its Inquiry on Energy drinks and children. We will consider this and all responses to the consultation and will respond to the feedback later in the year.
For related news item, see: 4 December 2018 NUTRITION / LABELLING - House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Report: Energy drinks and children