The inquiry—set up after a spate of supermarkets moved to ban their sale to under-16s—is to delve further into concerns over negative health effects associated with consumption.
“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,” said Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee
“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.”
Along with retail action, regulatory opinion is also shifting after a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that 68% of those aged 10-18, and 18% of those aged 3-10, were consumers of energy drinks.
A Durham University study has highlighted that for children, EFSA’s guideline limit is exceeded by a single can of some energy drinks.
Not just caffeine
The health effects also extend to the drinks’ sugar content. The World Health Organisation (WHO) highlights that an average can of energy drink contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar — almost the daily maximum limit recommended for children.
Currently, the Committee is accepting written submissions addressing this issue, particularly those that demonstrate the potential physical and mental health effects of energy drinks on children and young adults.
The Committee are also interested in submissions that detail how marketing affects consumption, including for example links to ‘gaming.’
Other points of discussion include what controls, regulation or awareness-raising are in place for energy drinks.
Written evidence should be submitted through the Committee’s inquiry page by Friday 6 April.