Campaigners are calling for a complete ban on energy drinks for under 16s, as new research shows that the average sugar content in energy drinks per serving was more than an adult’s entire maximum daily recommendation for sugar intake in the UK.
In a report published today in the BMJ, Action on Sugar found that 78 per cent of products still exceed the maximum daily recommendation for sugar intake for a child aged between seven and ten.
The report also pointed to the fact that energy drinks are often served in bigger bottles than other drinks, at a typical portion size of 500ml.
Registered nutritionist Kawther Hashem, co-author of the BMJ Open study, and researcher for Action on Sugar at Queen Mary University of London said: “Whilst it’s encouraging to see that some energy drinks manufacturers have reduced sugar in advance of the levy next spring, the huge can and bottle sizes means youngsters are still consuming far too much unnecessary sugar and caffeine.
“It’s clear that further reductions in both sugar and caffeine are urgently needed, and that they should get rid of large serving sizes – action must be taken now without further delay.”
The energy drinks surveyed show a 10 per cent reduction in sugar from 10.6g to 9.5g per 100ml and a six per cent reduction in calorie content per 100 ml since 2015 and pointed to the fact that the number of products (per serving) available on the market has fallen from 90 to 59 over the same period.
Graham MacGregor, chairman of Action on Sugar and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, said: “This study illustrates the huge contribution of energy drinks to sugar intake, which is linked to the development of obesity and various types of cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes and rotting our children’s teeth. They are completely inappropriate for children to consume, form no part of a healthy balanced diet, and should be banned for under 16s.”
High sugar energy drinks included Rockstar Punched Energy + Guava Tropical Guava Flavour, which has 78g in a 500ml serving.