The supermarkets that Foodwatch spoke to – including Albert Heijn, Jumbo and Plus – have a joint market share of 90 percent. They therefore approve of such an increased age limit, but only on one condition: that all supermarkets participate.
‘There must be legislation’
At the moment, only Aldi and Lidl have an age limit, which is 14 years. In other supermarkets, anyone who wants to can buy an energy drink. The supermarkets would like to change that, but only if everyone does. For example, Vomar, Albert Heijn, Dirk and DekaMarkt would like to see new and clear legislation. The Central Food Trade Bureau (CBL) has indicated that it does not wish to play a role in the discussion.
Foodwatch urges such an increase and use of the age limit, because energy drinks would be harmful to the health of young people.
Children in first aid
Pediatricians have already raised the alarm about this. According to them, such drinks are often the reason that children end up in the emergency room. The drinks are said to contain too much caffeine, sugar and taurine, which causes restlessness, fatigue and cardiac arrhythmias. That is why they argued in 2018 for a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children.
What is actually in such a can and why is it unhealthy?
Most cans of energy drinks contain about 80 milligrams of caffeine. That is slightly more than in a cup of coffee (it contains 70 milligrams). The recommended maximum for a 40-pound child is 100 milligrams of caffeine. At a higher dose, feelings of anxiety may arise. But even at a lower dose, sleep disturbances and agitation are already seen.
Taurine plays a role in regulating the fluid level in the brain and in the regular beating of the heart. The amount of taurine per can of energy drink is 10 times higher than humans need. It is not clear whether there are adverse effects of this high dose of taurine, but it is known that pediatric cardiologists see changes in the heart muscle with a high intake of taurine.
In addition, energy drinks contain a lot of sugar, about nine sugar cubes per 250 ml can. A high sugar intake can lead to overweight and obesity.
- 100 calories
Energy drinks are high in calories. There are about 100 calories in one can. If you take in more calories than you need, you will gain weight.
Source: Nutrition Center / Dutch Association of Pediatricians
Foodwatch is now calling on the Ministry of Health to take action. However, the same ministry indicated in 2018 that it did not feel like an age limit. They then argued for more information, in which schools and sports associations should play an important role.