More needs to be understood about the possible health problems that can result from the caffeine and sugar in energy drinks, a former health minister has said.
Norman Lamb, who is chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, noted that some supermarkets had chosen to ban the sale of energy drinks while others had not, and questioned if it should be for retailers to decide which products could be sold on health grounds.
His comments come as the committee launched an inquiry into the consumption of energy drinks by young people.
We need to understand how the caffeine and sugar in energy drinks might cause negative health outcomesNorman Lamb
A study by the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health found that young people in the UK consume more energy drinks than those in other European countries, with consumption in the UK increasing by 185% between 2006 and 2015.
A report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that 68% of those aged between 10 and 18 and 18% of those aged three to 10 consume the drinks.
EFSA estimates that an adult can consume up to 200mg of caffeine without adverse health impacts.
A Durham University study found children can exceed EFSA’s guideline limit by drinking a single can of some energy drinks.
An average can of energy drink contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar – almost the daily maximum limit recommended for children.
A number of retailers have recently voluntarily imposed bans on the sale of energy drinks to children.
Mr Lamb 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.”