An overseas proposal to ban energy drink sales to children causes local experts to question whether this should be implemented down under.
The England government announced this restriction amid growing health concerns due to containing high levels of sugar and caffeine.
Energy drinks have almost double the caffeine levels compared to soft drinks.
According to Nutrition Australia, these drinks pose no nutritional value and could have detrimental effects to children and adolescents.
This includes increasing the risks of obesity, heart rate, insomnia and anxiety.
Wagga dietitian Dianne Wintle argued that industries use clever marketing strategies, which trick customers and therefore the government should use control.
“I think it is a reasonable proposal to ban energy drink sales to children and for the government to provide some balance,” Mrs Wintle said.
“Parents might like to look at the ingredients and think about whether or not this is a good idea for their children.”
Popular energy drinks include Red Bull, Mother and V; and according to Red Bull’s website, a 250 ml can contains 80mg of caffeine, which the company says is equivalent to a cup of filtered coffee of the same size. Almost 3.5 times less in caffeine content, a 250ml of Coca-Cola contains 24.3mg.
In most schools across the nation, energy drinks are banned from being sold in canteens or brought into school.
Public schools in Wagga follow the Healthy Canteens Strategy, which was a joint venture by the Department of Education and the Ministry of Health, along with consultation with the state’s Catholic Education Commission and Association of Independent Schools.
However a Wagga dietitian and nutritionist Peta Adams, said while the high doses of caffeine are not “recommended” to children, it’s the sugar levels that are also a concern.
“It’s the combination of both caffeine and sugar and so they fall into the same category as soft drinks,” Ms Adams said.
“Exposure to sugar on the teeth in young children can lead to tooth decay and dental issues.”
The local nutritionist argued that banning energy drinks is not a “clear cut” situation.
“While I think taking them off the market for children is a good step in the right direction, the problem is not just solely on energy drinks.
“I think other food and drinks should be taken into consideration; this is just one aspect of the problem.
“It’s up to Australia to make this decision, but I think it should come down to the parents to dictate their child’s food and drink intake.
Overseas in Ireland, Aldi became the first retailer to ban energy drinks for people under 16 years.
However Aldi Australia has not implemented a policy to restrict energy drink sales and at this stage there are no plans to change.
“Should we receive external feedback about a particular product, we will work closely with relevant stakeholders to discuss ways it can be improved,” said an Aldi spokesperson.
“We are committed to reducing sodium, sugar and saturated fat content in our exclusive brand products as part of an ongoing process of consultation between Aldi suppliers and our quality assurance team.
“We also aim to make healthy decisions simple for our customers, with transparent labeling on all of our products.”