Ministers have ruled against introducing a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children due to a lack of scientific evidence.
Campaigners had called for the drinks, which usually contain a lot of sugar and caffeine, to be prohibited for children, but MPs in the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee have concluded that there isn’t enough “quantitative evidence” to push a statutory ban through at the moment.
Although there will not be a universal ban on selling energy drinks to children, the committee welcomed individual measures and policies adopted by shops, retail chains and schools. In recent months, a number of high-profile stores announced that they would introduce restrictions on the sale of energy drinks, with some bringing in a ban for under 16’s. Qualitative data analysis suggests that these bans may help to reduce consumption, but could also prove beneficial as they reinforce the link between energy drinks and negative effects on health.
The government launched the consultation into a ban on energy drinks for children in the summer, with the Prime Minister supporting the measure as a means of tackling childhood obesity. Statistics show that children in the UK consume more energy drinks than their counterparts in other countries in Europe.
Norman Lamb, chair of the committee, said that the panel had listened to a diverse range of concerns, from hyperactivity and a lack of focus and concentration in the classroom to obesity and dental disease, but there was currently not enough scientific evidence to differentiate the consumption of energy drinks from other drinks, including coffee, tea and fizzy pop.