A report looking at the impact of energy drinks on the behaviour of children has highlighted the concerns of teachers that caffeine-laced beverages are a driver for poor behaviour in the classroom.
And Swanswell, a national drug and alcohol charity, says it has evidence that energy drink consumption can, in some cases, be linked to the use of other substances such as cannabis.
They are readily available legal highs sold in vending machines, supermarkets and corner shopsUnion boss
Swanswell cites eamples of young cannabis users taking the drug to bring them back down from caffeine-induced highs and, conversely, using energy drinks to give them the energy to function normally.
Debbie Bannigan, chief executive of Swanswell, said: “Energy drinks can affect performance at school and lead to risky behaviour. We’ve even seen examples in our service of children taking cannabis to offset up to 800mg of caffeine a day.”
She added: “Unlike other countries there’s no official guidance on caffeine consumption for children in the UK. That’s why we’d like the Government to commission independent research into the long-term health impact of energy drinks.”
NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has teamed up with Swanswell, to lobby the Government to commission independent research into energy drink use and the long-term effects on health.
Findings in NASUWT’s 2016 annual Big Question Survey show 13 per cent of the 5,098 teachers who responded cited the use of caffeine and energy drinks as a driver of poor pupil behaviour.
The union and charity are calling for national guidelines on recommended consumption levels of caffeine for children to tackle pupil behaviour problems.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “For the last two years in our survey teachers have registered concern about the contribution of high-energy drinks to poor pupil behaviour as a result of consuming excessive quantities of these drinks.
“These drinks are popular among young people who often think they are just another soft drink.
“Young people and parents are often not aware of the very high levels of stimulants that these drinks contain.
“They are readily available legal highs sold in vending machines, supermarkets and corner shops.
“Their packaging and marketing makes them attractive.”