The young people from our Teen Bar sessions have teamed up with Emma Shields, an NHS Participation worker to create a campaign that shows young people the dangers of drinking energy drinks!
The project is just in the beginning stages but this blog post will give you all a bit of background info on energy drinks and why our young people wanted to highlight the dangers……..
In her role as a Participation worker Emma has worked with many young people who have expressed a reliance and enjoyment on energy drinks within their daily lives, following many discussions with young people Emma teamed up with our senior worker Jackie Long to approach and research this issue together. They began their research with a stall and display in our local shopping centre in Blyth in the summer and this highlighted the dangers of energy drinks on the body and the mind, explaining the high amounts of caffeine which these drinks carry. They talked to lots of young people asking if they drank these drinks or if they knew of people that did. The information they gathered was very worrying with some young people explaining they drank between 2-5 cans per day as well as occasionally taking caffeine tablets on top!
The World Health Organisation states that:
‘Researchers reviewed the literature on the health risks, consequences and policies related to energy drink consumption and found reason for concern and basis for further research. The authors conclude that “As energy drink sales are rarely regulated by age, unlike alcohol and tobacco, and there is a proven potential negative effect on children, there is the potential for a significant public health problem in the future”. European Food Safety Authority estimates that 30% of adults, 68% of adolescents, and 18% of children below 10 years consume energy drinks.
The authors suggest several actions to minimise the potential for harm from energy drinks:
- Establishing an upper limit for the amount of caffeine allowed in a single serving of this type of drinks in line with available scientific evidence;
- Regulations to enforce restriction of labelling and sales of energy drinks to children and adolescents;
- Enforcing standards for responsible marketing to young people by the energy drink industry;
- Training health care practitioners to be aware of the risks and symptoms of energy drinks consumption;
- Individuals with a history of diet problems and substance abuse, both alone and combined with alcohol, should be screened for the heavy consumption of energy drinks;
- Educating the public about the risks of mixing alcohol with energy drinks consumption;
- Further research on the potential adverse effects of energy drinks, particularly on young people.
Energy drinks can be sold in all EU countries, but some countries have introduced regulations, including setting rules for sales to children. Hungary introduced a public health tax that includes energy drinks in 2012. In Sweden, sales of some types of energy drinks are restricted to pharmacies and sales to children are banned.’
Emma and Jackie asked the individuals they spoke to if they were aware of the dangers drinking energy drinks could be having on their health and many seemed uninterested, which has made us more determined to highlight the issue!
Following the research and campaign in the shopping centre, Emma held a workshop with some young people in our drop in. Energy drinks have been banned in Silx for a number of years now following an incident with one of our members, he consumed so many energy drinks he ended up in hospital and we decided then that no one would be able to consume these drinks on our premises and we have highlighted the dangers for many years now through various activities and we confiscate any energy drinks we see and the young people that attend are continually reminded about how dangerous these drinks are so they are the perfect group to get this message across to other young people….
The young people decided they wanted to create a leaflet to get the message out their to people of a similar age to them, Emma approached the Blyth Central Children’s Centre for support and guidance, they have been an excellent asset and helped us to gain financial support from Draeger Safety UK and Northumberland Fire and Rescue to get the campaign under way.
The young people are now in the planning and designing stages and have come up with the tag line #NoBrainer which will be used throughout their project, this is a very exciting project that we hope people listen to and we will of course keep you updated throughout…..
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