A professor of nutritional science believes there is full cause to ban the sale of energy drinks to children and teenagers, due to caffeine’s deleterious effects on the young.
Though it should be obvious on its face, young people are more powerfully affected by caffeine simply by virtue of having a lower body weight. As such, they are more susceptible to consuming too much caffeine too quickly, but as it is there is no ban on selling energy drinks to children in Iceland. Þórhallur Halldórsson, a professor of nutritional science at the University of Iceland, told RÚV that the possibility of taking this step should be examined.
Þórhallur points out that a 12-year-old can tolerate only half as much caffeine as an adult. As many energy drinks contain significantly more caffeine than coffee, and are often marketed to appeal to young people, their consumption can have negative health effects – in particular on children who suffer from behavioural or cognitive disorders.
The idea is not unique to Iceland, either. Mainland Europe has seen increasing calls from medical professionals to institute such a ban. Jamie Oliver has pointed out that the drinks themselves advise that children not consume them, and has urged the British government to institute a ban. In some cases, private companies will make it a policy not to sell energy drinks to children under 16, but legal restrictions appear to be few and far between in most of Europe.