Energy drinks should be banned from sale to under-16s, urged campaign group Action on Sugar.
They played a “huge” role in children’s sugar intake, which is linked to obesity, and even some types of cancers, claimed the group’s Chairman.
The claims came after an Action on Sugar report revealed 78 per cent of energy drinks exceeded the maximum daily sugar recommendation for children, aged between seven and 10.
The children’s recommended sugar limit is 24g a day – the equivalent to about six teaspoons of sugar. But, some energy drinks topped 70g in one serving, claimed the campaign group.
“The huge can and bottle sizes [500ml] means youngsters are still consuming far too much unnecessary sugar and caffeine,” said Registered Nutritionist, and Action on Sugar researcher, Kawther Hashem.
“It’s clear that further reductions in both sugar and caffeine are urgently needed, and that they should get rid of large serving sizes – action must be taken now without further delay.”
The group’s Chairman, Graham MacGregor, added: “This study illustrates the huge contribution of energy drinks to sugar intake, which is linked to the development of obesity and various types of cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes and rotting our children’s teeth.
“They are completely inappropriate for children to consume, form no part of a healthy balanced diet, and should be banned for under-16s.”
Energy drink brand Rockstar had three products with “concerning levels” of sugar, Action on Sugar said.
Two of its products had 69g per serving, while its Punched Energy + Guava Tropical Guava Flavour drink had 78g.
Relentless Energy Drink Passion Punch had 70g of sugar per serving, while Lidl’s Freeway Up Colossus Energy Drink had 45.5g, the researchers said.
All of the higher sugar products came in 500ml cans and bottles. The researchers urged government to restrict the size of energy drinks to lower sugar and calorie intake in children.
A Lidl spokesperson said: “We are committed to helping our customers lead healthier lifestyles and are continuing to work with the wider industry to meet the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan.
“All of our products display clear labelling, to ensure that our customers are able to make informed decisions about the products they purchase.
“We can confirm that the product included in the study is currently undergoing a reformulation to bring the sugar content to under 5g/100ml.
“Additionally, we recommend on the packaging that this product is not suitable for children.”
Express.co.uk approached Rockstar and Relentless for comment on Action on Sugar’s claims.
The average amount of sugar in energy drinks has fallen by 10 per cent over the past two years, to 9.5g per 100ml, the report revealed.
There was also a six per cent fall in calorie content per 100ml, highlighting that some manufacturers have started to reformulate their products, ahead of next year’s Softs Drinks Industry Levy.
The levy – due to come into effect from April 2018 – will apply to manufacturers and importers of soft drinks.