School fizzing as pupils breakfast on energy drinks

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CONCERNS have been raised about school pupils’ “disturbing” intake of energy drinks, after reports that some youngsters were having them instead of breakfast.

A health warning has been issued at Knox Academy, in Haddington, after youngsters admitted downing several cans of the caffeinated beverages each day.

And education experts warned that the drinks could have a serious effect on youngster’s ability to focus on their schoolwork.

School bosses highlighted the problem in a monthly newsletter to parents, in which depute headteacher Sarah Ingham raised concerns that pupils were getting an “artificial boost” from the drinks.

The statement read: “It has come to our attention that many Knox Academy pupils are consuming what could be termed ‘energy’ drinks.

“They usually have a high sugar and caffeine content. Disturbingly, it seems that some youngsters are replacing their breakfast with these drinks, meaning that they are getting an artificial boost from the caffeine and sugar that is often followed by a slump characterised by a bad temper and an inability to focus on work.

“Even more disturbing are reports from pupils that they are drinking multiple cans of these drinks every day.”

Soft drinks, including products like Red Bull and Monster, have not been sold at the East Lothian school since it signed up to a healthy eating initiative several years ago but the drinks can be bought at local shops and drunk on the premises.

Across Edinburgh, school canteens and vending machines do not stock any fizzy drinks.

Dave McGinty, a national officer for health and safety with the Education Institute of Scotland (EIS), said he was aware of reports of children “buzzing” after tucking into energy drinks.

“They can become quite hyper because they are full of energy, sugar and caffeine,” he said. “When that wears off they can go down and we would have concerns about that. High-energy caffeinated drinks have their place but not necessarily at the breakfast table.”

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “It’s well documented that some of these energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and other stimulants, which may result in some youngsters being less than receptive in the classroom .”

Richard Lambing of the British Soft Drinks Association, which represents many of the energy drinkmakers, said the products were not designed or marketed for children.

“Our position is that these drinks are designed for adults. We do not market them to under-16s and we label them accordingly.”

Chris Mantle, a food and health development worker with Edinburgh Community Food, said energy drinks can cause sleeping issues which can spur “deteriorating behaviour”.