In recent years, there has been a concern as to the number of children accessing energy drinks. These beverages, which contain high levels of caffeine and sugar, are readily available. That may not be much of a problem when it comes to adults. Studies show that adults can build a tolerance to caffeine and can thus be free of adverse effects. However, children and teens have a lower tolerance for caffeine.
Furthermore, the increased intake of caffeine has proven to be a gateway to other substance abuse. Parents and authorities have harbored worries as to how this ease of access could impact youngsters.
With this happening, authorities have come up with means to tackle this added consumption. The restrictions apply to youngsters who are at more risk of overdose and other such likelihoods.
Why put age restrictions on the sale of energy drinks?
You may wonder what has caused this interest in banning the sale of these drinks to minors. It all comes down to parents fearing for the health and education of their children. There have been concerns that youngsters have acted out of their nature following the consumption of energy drinks.
Caffeine gives the consumer an energy boost. Youngsters are already at that age where everything seems fun, and they throw caution to the wind a lot. It thus would not help if they were under the influence and therefore had less control over their actions. There have been cases where children have acted worryingly in school and at home.
Other than behavioral issues, there is concern that these drinks could harm children’s health. Most energy drinks have high amounts of sugar. Once in a while, consumption of this sugar should not be an issue.
However, over time, it can lead to obesity, more so for frequent drinkers. And that’s not all. These drinks are highly acidic such that they can erode the enamel. Couple this erosion with high sugar levels, and tooth decay can take place.
You wouldn't give alcohol, coffee or cigarettes to your kids… So what about energy drinks?! Tweet @Jeremy_Hunt to put age restrictions on the sale of energy drinks to under 16s. #NotForChildren pic.twitter.com/ZaYjv9hVLF
— Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) January 5, 2018
Children also suffer from other side effects of taking caffeine. Their systems are still developing and thus cannot handle the added pressure that comes from this stimulant. They end up having trouble sleeping and experience stomachache and headaches.
A spike in blood pressure can also take place, given that their systems are new to handling this stimulant. There have been cases where energy drink manufacturers have been on the spot owing to deaths.
There is also the issue of cost. Children can spend as little as $1 and end up with liters of energy drinks. That means that they do not have to spend a lot of money on these drinks. And they can still end up drinking more than they should. As such, the cost has proven not to be a barrier. If anything, it works in encouraging children to consume more drinks.
Energy drinks age restrictions in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom the effects of energy drinks have been a source of concern. Following this, the authorities have engaged several stakeholders as they try and formulate a policy on age restrictions.
However, before this ban can apply, there will be a consultation period leading to twelve weeks. During this time, the government will listen to views, some of which it may implement. At the end of the period, it should be clear what would work best. Also, this consultation ensures that people’s voices get heard.
Not all energy drinks will face a ban when it comes to consumption by teens and children. It is only those which have more than 150 mg per can. Drinks such as Red Bull and Monster fall into this category. They are thus sure to face some adverse effects if the age restriction goes through.
Anything that has more than 150 mg of caffeine per can delivers high amounts of stimulants to the users. Even for an adult, that is quite a high amount. It amounts to six times what you would get from a can of cola. And a child would drink that in one go!
Now, the question of age has come up a lot. Some people argue that the ban should be on children aged 16 and below while others gravitate towards an 18 year age limit. The final decision will be made known once the consultations come to an end.
The focus of this ban has been on Britain, and this is not for naught. You see, almost 70% of children between 10-17 years have had an energy drink. Also, most of them are frequent drinkers, which is quite a cause for worry.
These children end up feeling tired and have emotional problems as a result. They can drink as many as three energy drinks per day, which points to a high level of consumption. Compared to other children in the EU in that age gap, those in Britain consume 50% more energy drinks.
The problem is that there are retailers who do not find an issue with providing these drinks to minors. About a fifth of the market is open to youngsters, enabling them to lay their hands on these beverages as they wish.
The energy drink market is growing at a fast rate, and youngsters have a lot to do with this growth. With this ban, the market could suffer a slowdown.
Energy drinks age restrictions in Lithuania
Lithuania was the first European country to issue a ban on the sale of energy drinks to anyone under 18 years old. As is the case with the UK, the ban relates to drinks with caffeine contents exceeding 150 mg per liter.
The ban followed reports that showed that teens were heavily consuming these drinks.
At the time of the ban, authorities were quick to term the restriction as a precaution. In doing so, they did not group these beverages with tobacco and alcohol. The precaution worked in protecting youngsters who were at risk of adverse health effects.
The ban was swift, such that manufacturers got caught off-guard. However, this move was deliberate. It was a way for the authorities to caution manufacturers who had targeted the teens and kids.
The energy drinks market faced quite a blow, having lost more than half its market in one go.
Age restrictions in the United Arab Emirates
Before an age restriction on energy drink consumption was put in place in 2010, energy drink-related deaths were on the rise. The authorities reacted by enforcing a ban on selling these beverages to children under sixteen.
The ministry of economy was in charge of enforcing this policy. It ensured that retail outlets adhered to the rules, lest they face prosecution or closure of their shops. The ban not only applied to under 16s but also pregnant women, heart patients, and people with caffeine allergies.
To ensure that retail outlets adhered to the rules, regular inspections of shops took place.
Age restrictions in Saudi Arabia
This country did not get left behind in the wave to ban the sale of energy drinks to minors. The authorities took up this matter with zeal and even banned the sale of these drinks in other establishments.
These included health clubs, gyms, institutions, food outlets, and cafeterias in the kingdom. Where retail outlets stocked these drinks, they were to separate them from other beverages. They were also to display the possible health hazards associated with consuming these beverages.
The authorities provided them with stickers with information which they were to present to their customers. In doing so, they also educated their clients.
Energy drink ban in Latvia
In 2016, authorities in Latvia banned the sale of energy drinks to persons under the age of 18. This restriction applied to energy drinks regardless of whether they used caffeine or other stimulants. The purpose of the sale ban was to protect youngsters from the harmful effects of such drinks.
Cashiers could no longer sell these drinks without asking for ID. Those found in violation of the law were at risk of incurring fines.
The law also required that stores place energy drinks away from other food products. Drinks that fell into this category were those with more than 150 mg of caffeine per liter. Additionally, store owners were to put up signs discouraging risk groups from using energy drinks. Risk groups included pregnant and nursing women, children, heart patients, and those with caffeine sensitivities.
These are some of the countries where age restrictions on energy drinks are in place. Some have tried to come up with similar laws, but their efforts have been undermined. An excellent example, in this case, would be the United States. Is there an energy drink age restriction in your country, and how has this affected you?