Proposed tea and coffee sales ban for under-16 faces backlash

Most of our readers disagreed with the banning the sale of teas and coffees to under-16s.

By Ariane Brumwell   |   Reporter   |
Friday 8th July 2022 9:30 am
@MissAzzaB
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The Welsh Government is considering banning children under 16 from buying tea and coffee as part of its proposed clampdown on energy drinks.

The move, which has faced a lot of criticism from across the UK, comes amid concerns over the rising consumption of high-caffeine energy drinks as well as the rising rate of obesity in Wales.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds slammed the proposed plans to include tea and coffee in a ban on caffeinated drinks as “outrageously illiberal”.

The MS for Mid and West Wales said: “It is beggars’ belief that this is even under consideration.

“We are all aware obesity is a serious problem in Wales and it is important that we take action to reduce the levels across Wales.

“However, it doesn’t take an expert consultation to realise that tea and coffee are not responsible for high obesity levels.

“It would be outrageously illiberal to ban the sale of coffee and tea to under 16-year-olds, something which they regularly drink themselves at home.”

The Welsh Government is running its consultation on the sale of tea and coffee to under-16s until September.

It is part of the wider plans being considered as to how to make young people healthier and stop rising obesity rates - concerns have also been raised that the rising consumption of high-caffeine energy drinks is affecting students’ education.

According to Welsh Government research, some energy drinks have more than 21 teaspoons of sugar with more caffeine than three cups of coffee.

The high caffeine drinks is reported to cause problems in under-16s like nervousness, upset stomach, headaches, trouble concentrating and sleep problems.

One third of children inW ales drink energy drinks each week according to the research.

While some supermarkets and shops already have their own bans in place against under-16s buying energy drinks, both the Wales and England are looking to ban the sale of the drinks to children.

Under current rules in Wales, drinks which have more than 150mg of caffeine are legally required to carry a warning.

In its consultation document, the Welsh Government said: “We know that dietary behaviours in our childhood have a significant influence in what and how we eat and drink in later life. Energy drinks are legally required to display warnings that they are not recommended for children due to their high caffeine content. We wish to consider introducing a mandatory position across Wales.

“Research suggests that preventative action may be needed to protect young people from associated health harms from consumption of energy drinks.”

In Wales, approximately 1.5 million adults are overweight with 600,000 of those being obese - more than one in four children in Wales are also classed as overweight or obese when they start primary school.

The estimated cost of obesity on the NHS is a staggering £6.1 billion per year across the UK.

According to WalesOnline, a Welsh Government spokesman said: “Under current labelling rules any drink other than tea or coffee that contains over 150mg of caffeine per litre requires a warning label: ‘High caffeine content’.

“We propose to use this criteria to determine which drinks should be included in any action to end the sales of energy drinks to children.

“As part of our consultation we wish to consider if other drinks could be in scope, recognising the negative impact which high caffeine levels can have upon children’s health.”

What you thought about the proposed ban

Last week The Brecon & Radnor Express asked its readers for their views on the potential ban on tea and coffee sales to children under-16.

In total 56 readers responded online from our social media posts on June 28 - only four of our readers thought that banning the sale of tea and coffee to under-16s was a good idea, meanwhile one person was unsure - 51 readers thought it was a bad idea.

Of the input we received on social media, 27 readers responded on Instagram, one on Twitter and 28 on Facebook (including the use of Facebook Message).

One Facebook user said: “Educate the grown ups, why do adults think it is ok for children under 16 to have caffeinated products? Too many unintelligent adults, that do not correlate health with what they put in to their body!”

Another reader commented on Facebook: “Not sure these are what I would choose but something has to be done. Obesity rates are climbing and children are getting more and more unhealthy. That said, I don’t think under 16s should be drinking coffee (or energy drinks) and if they are then clearly restrictions need to be put in place.”

More than a few of our readers shared the same view that a bigger issue feeling obesity in under-16s is soft sugary drinks and energy drinks more than tea and coffee.

One person commented: “I think the issue is rather 10/11-year-olds running around with cans of Monster or Lucozade Alert!”

Another added: “Mad idea and how many under 16s drink tea and coffee , they drink coke or some other suger filled drink

Others laid the blame more on fast-food and commented that children need to be taught how to “cook healthy lovely food” and that the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables needs to be lowered to allow for a healthier diet.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments, via email or in our letters page.

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