Ministers will ban the sale of Red Bull, Monster Energy and other energy drinks to children in England amid growing concern about the impact that the high-caffeine, high-sugar drinks are having on young people’s health. The Guardian reports
A consultation on how to implement the proposed ban will be unveiled today, with Downing Street indicating that the principal question to be determined is whether the purchasing restrictions will apply at the age of 16 or 18.
Theresa May said the consultation was linked to the government’s childhood obesity strategy and said it was necessary to examine the consumption of energy drinks “often because they are sold at cheaper prices than soft drinks”.
The principal justification for the ban is the high level of caffeine in the energy drinks, which has been linked to a string of health problems for children, including head and stomach aches, as well as hyperactivity and sleep problems.
Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef and food health campaigner, said he welcomed the prospect of a ban on energy drink sales because “too many children are regularly using them to replace breakfast” and “teachers from across the country have told me how their lessons are disrupted because of these drinks, packed with stimulants”.
Steve Brine, the public health minister, complained that “in some outlets it is possible to buy four 250ml cans of energy drink for £1”. The 12-week consultation proposes that a ban would apply to drinks that contain more than 150mg of caffeine per litre.
A Downing Street source added that introducing a ban was all but certain, saying: “It’s a question not of whether we do it, but how.”
The proposed ban only applies to England, but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can all follow suit if their administrations wish. In March, several major supermarket chains announced that they would ban the sale of energy drinks to children under 16.
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