In an Individual Members debate this afternoon, Jenny Rathbone , the member for Cardiff Central called on the Welsh Government to take action to raise awareness of health concerns that she believes surrounds caffeine loaded energy drinks.She had this to say:
– Jenny Rathbone AM , Cardiff Central
Research here and in Europe confirm that this has become a major problem. A significant minority of adolescents are hooked on this stuff, drinking it on the way to school and during their lunch break.People who work with children say it can have a major impact on young people's behaviour. The long term health effects need further research, but worryingly caffeine is thought to affect iron and calcium absorption.I believe the Drinks industry voluntary code of practice not to target children with their products is blatantly ignored.
Jenny Rathbone was about to go on to explain her views on the pricing of such drinks, indicating that they are attractive to children because in some bargain stores they can retail for as little as 25p when she was interrupted by Plaid's Bethan Jenkins AM who felt that the debate was far too narrow.
Plaid Cymru's Simon Thomas who had tabled an amendment to the motion got to his feet and was scathing in that he felt this was a matter over and above the Welsh Government's powers and said that in comparison to other issues that needed the Welsh Government's attention , it was a case of fiddling while Rome burns.
But the debate was supported by several AM's including Conservative , Angela Burns .The mother of two says that she is very concerned about the effects that marketing and promotion is having on young children when it comes to their choice of drink.
Although as pointed out by Plaid Cymru, there is little that the Welsh Government can do , Health Minister Mark Drakeford promised to achieve what he could within the limits of his powers.