Today’s announcement by Waitrose to ban sales of high-caffeine energy drinks to under-16s has been welcomed by the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union.
The NASUWT has been engaged, for sometime, in researching and raising awareness of the adverse impact of energy drinks on the behaviour of children and young people and has called for the Government to commission independent research into energy drink use and the long-term effects on children’s health.
The NASUWT campaign was initiated as a result of teachers and headteachers raising with the Union their concerns about the increasing consumption of energy drinks by children and the 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.
A typical energy drink contains 32mg of caffeine per 100ml and a single 500ml can contains 160mg of caffeine, equal to a mug and a half of instant coffee. Warning labels on energy drinks say they are not suitable for children.
When the issues first came to light the NASUWT worked with the drug and alcohol charity Swanswell to produce information to raise awareness among parents, pupils and teachers of the high levels of stimulants which energy drinks contain and their potential impact on children’s behaviour and health.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“Waitrose has taken a positive and responsible step which hopefully not only other supermarkets will follow, but which will also encourage the Government to produce national guidelines on recommended consumption levels of caffeine for children.
“These drinks are readily available legal highs and are leading to children and young people consuming high levels of stimulants, with little known about the long-term health impacts.
“Teachers are left to deal with the effects these stimulants have on pupil behaviour.
“There is a chronic lack of awareness about the effects of these drinks which many pupils and parents think are just another soft drink.”
Notes to Editors
Guidance produced by the NASUWT is attached.
Some suggested steps schools can take are:
Discuss the issue at a staff meeting sharing information and gather experiences from staff.
Make sure that staff are aware of the main energy drink brands available on the market and the recommendations issued by the European Commission on their use by children and young people.
Draw the attention of parents to the issue of energy drinks and inviting them to have a conversation with their children about their use of these products.
Use this information to highlight key facts on energy drinks to pupils through, for example, assemblies, Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) lessons and engagement with school councils.
Press and Media Officer
NASUWT, Hillscourt, Rose Hill, Rednal, Birmingham, B45 8RS
0121 457 6269/07785 463 119