Around a third of children in the UK – mostly young teens – consume caffeinated energy drinks more than once a week, according to a new report from the British Medical Journal (BMJ.)
Younger teenagers are the most likely to drink caffeinated energy drinks (CEDs), says the report, with boys tending to rely on them more than girls.
Approximately half of children globally currently consume CEDs on a weekly and monthly basis, behaviour which has been linked to lower academic scores and poor mental health.
Having energy drinks five or more times a week could cause poor physical health and behavioural problems too. Some of the most troubling issues that were recorded in the study include reports of headaches, stomachaches, sleeping problems and irritability.
Young teens who consumed energy drinks five or more days a week were said to have worse mental health, levels of fitness, and sense of well-being compared to their peers who did not consume the drinks.
Consuming CEDs has also been equated with the uptake of smoking and alcohol use.
The study also noted that children who were drinking CEDs were more likely to not excel at school, sometimes facing exclusion.
The British Medical Journal noted however that a more comprehensive study must be done to collect stronger evidence for their findings, which has been harvested via surveys.
In the UK, many food and drink retailers will not sell energy drinks to teens under the age of 16, after the Government banned selling them to this age group in 2019.
Many mainstream energy drinks on the market, such as Red Bull and Monster, contain extremely high level of sugar and caffeine. Approximately 80mg of caffeine can be found in a regular CED can, as well as around 10g of sugar. To give this context, one shot of freshly-ground coffee contains around 63mg of caffeine.
As the UK Government potentially halts its decision of implementing HFSS legislation for food and drinks in major supermarket and food retailers, energy drinks could still remain a popular, but unhealthy, choice for under-18s around the country.