The UK government is proposing banning the sale of energy drinks to children in England as a means of tackling obesity.
A consultation has been launched on whether energy drinks that contain more than 150mg of caffeine per litre should be made unavailable for children.
It also aims to determine whether the restrictions should apply to children under the age of 16 or 18.
Earlier this year supermarkets such as Aldi, Asda and Waitrose banned the sale of energy drinks to under-16s, but children can still buy them from convenience stores and vending machines.
Government figures reveal that more than two-thirds of 10- to 17-year-olds and a quarter of 6- to 9-year-olds consume energy drinks.
A 250ml can of energy drink can contain around 80mg of caffeine – the equivalent of nearly three cans of cola.
Ministers are responding to concerns surrounding health issues following exessive consumption of energy drinks among children, including headaches, sleep problems, stomach aches and hyperactivity.
Prime minister Theresa May said: “Childhood obesity is one of the greatest health challenges this country faces, and 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.
“Our plans to tackle obesity are already world-leading, but we recognise much more needs to be done and as part of our long-term plan for the NHS, we are putting a renewed focus on the prevention of ill-health.
“With thousands of young people regularly consuming energy drinks, often because they are sold at cheaper prices than soft drinks, we will consult on banning the sale of energy drinks to children.
“It is vital that we do all we can to make sure children have the best start in life and I encourage everyone to put forward their views.”
Public health minister Steve Brine added: “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 teenagers already consume 50% more of these drinks than European counterparts, and teachers have made worrying links between energy drinks and poor behaviour in the classroom.
“We are asking the public for their views on the matter, to ensure energy drinks are not being excessively consumed by children.”
The proposal comes the same month as Monster Beverage Corporation posted record quarterly net sales in its second-quarter results, exceeding $1 billion for the first time.
Overall net sales rose 12% to $1.02 billion as it increased soft drink sales in both the US and internationally.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019
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