Sale of coffee and tea to under 16s could be banned in Wales

The Welsh Government has confirmed drinks with high caffeine levels such as tea and coffee could be included in a ban. Credit: PA

Under 16s in Wales could be banned from buying tea and coffee as part of options being considered in an effort to make young people healthier and stop rising obesity rates.

There are concerns that the rising consumption of high-caffeine energy drinks is affecting students' educations.Now, the Welsh Government has confirmed that the consultation on the proposal to end sales of energy drinks to children also asks whether the plan "should be widened to consider other drinks typically high in caffeine such as tea and coffee".

Under current rules all drinks except tea and coffee which contain more than 150mg of caffeine must carry a warning.

The sale of energy drinks to young people has already been proposed. Credit: PA

Some energy drinks have 21 teaspoons of sugar and the same caffeine level as three cups of coffee.

Research shows that children who drink at least one energy drink per week are more likely to report symptoms such as headaches, sleep and stomach problems, as well as low mood and irritability.

There is also evidence to link regular energy drink consumption with low educational engagement.

Obesity in Wales: a snapshot

A consultation has now been launched by the Welsh Government which will also look at restricting the promotion of foods high in fat, sugar, or salt, ending free refills on sugary drinks, and expanding the publication of calories on menus.

One of the questions being asked is whether other drinks that have high caffeine levels could be included.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Under current labelling rules any drink other than tea or coffee that contains over 150mg of caffeine per litre requires a warning label: 'High caffeine content'.

"We propose to use this criteria to determine which drinks should be included in any action to end the sales of energy drinks to children.

"As part of our consultation we wish to consider if other drinks could be in scope, recognising the negative impact which high caffeine levels can have upon children’s health.”

There aren't currently restrictions on children buying coffee or tea. Credit: Janko Ferlic

Speaking on ITV's Lorraine show on Friday morning, resident GP Amir Kahn questioned the proposals of expanding the ban to coffee and tea.

Dr Kahn said: "There is no real evidence for long-term damage from caffeine in tea and coffee so let us be proportionate – a ban is probably not necessary."

The consultation will run until September 1, 2022.