MADRID – Due to the high content of stimulants such as caffeine and taurine, health experts have been warning for some time about the risks of consuming a lot of energy drinks. Consequently, a Spanish region now wants to protect young people against this.
The government of Galicia, the Xunta, has decided to ban the sale and use of energy drinks by minors from next year. The measure puts drinks such as Monster, Red Bull and Burn on the same page as alcohol because of the health risks they pose.
The stimulants in energy drinks can have adverse effects on the cardiovascular and brain systems of teens and adolescents. They can also lead to sleep disorders, nervousness, irritability and anxiety, according to the Ministry of Health in Galicia.
The department is currently working on the draft law on addiction prevention in minors to implement this ban. Galicia will be the first autonomous community in Spain to take such a measure. Until 2010, young people in Galicia from the age of 16 could consume low-strength alcoholic drinks. However, this age limit has now been increased to 18 years for all alcoholic drinks.
The new legislation will also restrict minors’ access to electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes. In addition, there will be a ban on advertising of energy drinks aimed at children.
According to a survey ordered by the Ministry of Health, four in ten high school students in Galicia admit to regularly consuming energy drinks. This number increased by 31% between 2018 and 2021. There is also a significant difference between boys and girls; almost 50% of boys drink these drinks at least once a month, compared to 31% of girls.
Health risks increase when energy drinks are mixed with alcohol. Nearly 12% of adolescent students in Galicia choose this risky combination, which experts say is a ‘ticking time bomb’.
Finally, the new Galician law will require that energy drinks cannot be sold next to regular soft drinks, but must be placed separately to make a clear distinction.