The Dutch health ministry has warned about potential health problems in teenagers who drink energy drinks excessively.
Research conducted by the RIVM government health institute found that 1% or 2% of the 1.2 million Dutch teenagers regularly drink three or more cans of energy drinks a day, risking health issues like heart palpitations and dizziness.
This is, it says, due to the quantities of caffeine, taurine and D-glucuronolactone in the drinks. The body recommends that 13 to 18-year olds should avoid the drinks entirely or consume a maximum of one can a day.
Dutch junior health minister Paul Blokhuis, who commissioned the research after concerns were raised by paediatricians earlier this year, said: ‘We don’t need to be concerned about most young people who consume energy drinks. The group that is at risk is relatively small, but we are still talking about thousands of children. It is important to prevent these young people from having sleep problems, heart palpitations, or worse.
‘In any case, energy drinks do not fit into a healthy eating pattern for young as well as old.’
The minister is implementing measures to deal with these risks, including alerting doctors so that they can warn patients and issuing new healthy eating advice for teenagers together with The Netherlands Nutrition Centre.
The new guidance is not to allow children under 13 to drink the liquids, and advice those from 13-18: ‘it’s better not to drink it, but if you do, have just one can a day maximum.’
A potential sales ban to younger people will be discussed later this year and prevented in a national plan in October.
Earlier this week, Aldi and Lidl said they would stop selling the drinks to under-14s, a voluntary decision welcomed by Blokhuis. ‘I think this is a good initiative to reinforce the Nutrition Centre’s advice and so discourage children from drinking energy drinks.’
In countries such as the UK, supermarkets have a voluntary code to avoid selling such drinks to under-16s.
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