The report published by the Food Research Collaboration – an arm of the Centre for Food Policy at City University London – reviewed worldwide evidence on energy drinks and claimed they lead to headaches, stomach aches and sleep problems.
Visits to accident and emergency departments in the US had increased by 100% between 2007 and 2011, said the paper, which was written by Dr Shelina Visram of Durham University and Kawther Hashem from the lobby group Action on Sugar.
UK sales of energy drinks rose by 155% between 2006 and 2014, an uptick of 365 million litres, claimed Visram and Hashem.
Increase their consumption
It was also expected that children aged between 10 and 14 years old would increase their consumption by 11% in the next five years.
In the UK, 68% of 11–18-year-olds consume energy drinks as well as 18% of children under 10. Among the 11-18 age group, 11% claim to drink a minimum of one litre of energy drinks a day, with 12% claiming to drink a litre in a single session.
The report authors said: “More research is needed to understand the short and long-term effects in terms of health, well-being and educational outcomes.
“However, the available evidence indicates that these drinks are associated with a range of health complaints and risky behaviours, including binge drinking and drug use.
Action is needed
“Action is needed by local and national government to restrict the sale and marketing of these drinks to young people.”
Meanwhile, British Soft Drinks Association director general Gavin Partington said energy drinks were safe and were only a small part of young people’s diets.
He said: “The latest review by the European Food Safety Authority in 2015 confirms that energy drinks are safe and make up a very small part of the caffeine intake of adolescents and a negligible amount amongst children.
“With a 250ml can of energy drink typically containing about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, there is no scientific justification to treat energy drinks differently than the main contributors to daily caffeine intake in all age groups including tea, coffee and chocolate.”