Research has shown that young people in the UK consume more energy drinks than those in other European countries, with total consumption in the UK increasing by 185% between 2006 and 2015.
A report by the European Food Safety Authority found that 68% of those aged 10-18, and 18% of those aged 3-10, were consumers of energy drinks.
EFSA estimates that an adult can consume up to 200mg of caffeine without adverse health impacts. A Durham University study has highlighted that for children, EFSA’s guideline limit is exceeded by a single can of some energy drinks.
The WHO highlights that an average can of energy drink also contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar — almost the daily maximum limit recommended for children. EU regulations require drinks containing 150mg/l of caffeine to have additional health warnings. Some retailers have voluntarily imposed bans on energy drink sales to children.
Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:
“We know that young people in the UK are the biggest consumers of energy drinks in Europe for their age. We need to understand how the caffeine and sugar in energy drinks might cause negative health outcomes. Meanwhile, some retailers have chosen to ban their sale, and some have not.
“Should it be for retailers to decide which products can be sold on health grounds? Our inquiry will consider the evidence and set out what needs to be done by the Government, the industry and others.”
Terms of Reference
The Committee would welcome written submissions addressing this issue, including:
- The evidence on the potential physical and mental health effects of energy drinks on children and young adults;
- How marketing affects consumption, including for example links to ‘gaming’;
- What links there are between use of energy drinks and other behaviours, and whether energy drink consumption drives those behaviours or vice versa;
- What gaps there are in the evidence-base on these physical, mental and behavioural factors;
- What the evidence is on the risks being increased, or reduced, through the way energy drinks are consumed;
- The extent to which drinks being carbonated affects their consumption and marketing;
- What controls, regulation or awareness-raising are in place for energy drinks;
- What further controls, regulation or awareness-raising are required, and where responsibility/accountability for that should lie.
Deadline for submissions
Written evidence should be submitted through the inquiry page by Friday 6 April. The word limit is 3,000 words. Later submissions will be accepted, but may be too late to inform the first oral evidence hearing. Please send written submissions using the form on the inquiry page.
The Committee values diversity and seek to ensure this where possible. We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. We aim to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and ask organisations to bear this in mind if asked to appear.
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