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Health and social care

Energy drink advice for young people

Energy drinks are fizzy drinks which contain high levels of sugar, caffeine and stimulants. The stimulants they contain are often guarana, taurine and ginseng. Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks and should not be used for hydration during exercise.

Energy drinks are not recommended for children under the age of 16 years.

Make the healthy swap; swap your energy drink for water to keep your body and teeth healthy.

Water is the best drink for keeping hydrated when playing sport. It’s also free!

Harmful effects of energy drinks

Illustration of blue drinks can with an orange lightning bolt on the front. White text in purple boxes asks 'Energy drinks, what's the harm?'

The high levels of sugar, caffeine, and stimulants contained in energy drinks can cause some serious health problems including:

  • sleep problems
  • hyperactivity and behavioural problems
  • tooth decay
  • weight gain
  • anxiety

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Sugar in energy drinks

One large can of energy drink can contain:

  • 14 cubes of sugar - which is twice the recommended daily amount for a young person aged 11 years and over
  • 220 calories - you would need to run for 41 minutes to burn it off

Recommended daily intake of sugar for children:

Age (years) Amount of sugar
4 to 6 years 19 grams per day (5 cubes)
7 to 10 years 24 grams per day (6 cubes)
11 and over 30 grams per day (7 cubes)

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Caffeine in energy drinks

One large energy drink can contain the equivalent amount of caffeine as 2 strong cups of coffee.

Caffeine is an addictive substance which is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola and energy drinks. It has a stimulant effect and high daily intakes can cause serious side effects. Try to limit the amount of caffeine in your diet.

Amount of caffeine in food and drink:

Food/drink Amount of caffeine
Large energy drink 180mg
Cup of coffee 95mg
Can of coke 40mg
50g bar of dark chocolate 25mg

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Stimulants in energy drinks

Energy drinks contain stimulants such as guarana, taurine, and ginseng.

The stimulant effects of energy drinks can cause hyperactivity, sleep problems and poor concentration. This can lead to poor performance at school.

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Further resources

See further information about healthy food swaps and healthy eating from the NHS:

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Also see

Public Health

Station Rise, West Offices, York, YO1 6GA

Telephone: 01904 553866