A fourth UK supermarket chain has announced it will ban the sale of high-caffeine energy drinks to children under the age of 16.

The age restrict applies for all drinks which contain over 150mg of caffeine per litre and will come into effect in the four UK supermarkets in March.

Currently in New Zealand energy drinks – like Red Bull, Mother Energy and V that contain between 145 mg/l and no more than 320 mg/l caffeine (including guarana) – have to have a label stating how much caffeine they contain and an advisory that they are not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women and individuals sensitive to caffeine. The Ministry of Health’s 2012 nutrition guidelines for two to 18 year-olds advises children and young people to limit their intakes of caffeine and specifically says energy drinks and energy shots are not recommended for children or young people.

In the UK the teachers’ union NASUWT has been campaigning for sometime about the increasing consumption of energy drinks by children and their impact on teaching and learning. More than one in ten teachers who responded to the NASUWT Annual Big Question Survey 2017 cited energy drinks as a key cause of poor pupil behaviour in schools. The union’s general secretary said earlier this year that there was

“a chronic lack of awareness about the effects of these drinks which many pupils and parents think are just another soft drink”.

The move by UK supermarkets to restrict the sales of caffeinated energy began with Waitrose in early January and was followed last week by Asda and Aldi and most recently by Sainsbury’s.

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