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Children could be banned from buying energy drinks including Prime under Labour crackdown

The crackdown would be part of Labour’s push to improve the health of UK children

Zoe Grunewald
Saturday 10 February 2024 10:46 GMT
The state of children’s teeth in the UK has become a political priority

Labour is reportedly mulling a ban on the sale of energy drinks to under-16s if the party were to win power at the next general election.

A proposal to limit the sale of energy drinks has been submitted to the party’s election manifesto amid growing concern about the health risks to young people.

A recent government-commissioned study revealed that up to one third of UK children consume at least one energy drink every week.

The major review led by Teesside University of more than one million children in 21 countries found energy drinks were linked to increased stress, anxiety, poor academic performance and even the risk of suicide, as health campaigners and experts sound concerns about the quantity of sugar and caffeine in the drinks.

Energy drink brands such as Red Bull, Prime and Monster can have up to 150mg of caffeine - whereas a 250ml cup of coffee often only has around 90mg - and up to 21 teaspoons of sugar.

Labour’s manifesto will be published in the run up to the election (PA Wire)

Prime was launched by YouTube influencers KSI and Logan Paul, who both have millions of followers online.

Last year a child was hospitalised after drinking Prime Energy, leading a school to issue a warning to parents about the drink’s ‘harmful effects’.

Many supermarkets have introduced a voluntary ban on the sale of energy drinks to under-16s but they are still available in many smaller shops and vending machines.

The proposal has yet to have approval from Keir Starmer, but the party leader has said that he is “up for fight” over accusations that Labour is taking a “nanny state” approach to healthcare.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has defended Labour’s hands-on approach to children’s health (PA Archive)

The party have already announced that they will support supervised toothbrushing in schools, amid rising concerns about tooth decay amongst children.

In January, Labour launched its Child Health Action plan, which aims to create the “healthiest generation of children ever”, and includes policies such as breakfast clubs, supervised toothbrushing, mental health counsellors in schools, banning junk food advertising and cracking down on smoking and vaping.

The shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has said that Labour “wont sit idly by while children become fatter, more unhealthy, less happy” as he defended the party’s hands-on approach.

The government had previously looked at banning energy drinks for under-16s following a consultation, but the ban has not yet been implemented.

Both parties will set out their manifesto commiments in the run up to the next election.

Labour have declined to comment on the claims.

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