Hero head grabbing the Red Bull by the horns

By on 25/03/2014 in Cllr Bedser, News

Birmingham Mail Red Bull banCabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, praises a Birmingham head teacher for banning high caffeine energy drinks.

In case you haven’t seen today’s Birmingham Mail, the city has a new public health hero after head teacher Peter Slough took the brave decision to ban pupils from consuming caffeine-heavy energy drinks.

The head of Small Heath School decided to take a stand after children as young as 11 were spotted downing up to three cans a day.

He surveyed pupils from Year 7 up to the Sixth Form and told the Birmingham Mail: “It became obvious that a lot of our children were drinking several cans a day - drinking them on the way to school and leaving home without breakfast.”

A healthy breakfast can come in many shapes and sizes – it could be a slice of wholemeal toast, some fruit or a bowl of porridge.

It doesn’t come in a can of high caffeine rocket fuel.

Mr Slough further discovered that many pupils were having another can at lunchtime and also drinking them at home. Once the scale of the issue became clear, he decided to take action and introduced the ban.

Good for him!

Now when the public health world and the food industry collide, there are often fireworks. We’re not always on the same page.

But full credit to the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), which counts Red Bull and other energy drink companies as members, for backing Mr Slough's campaign.

As the BSDA rightly points out:

  • Energy drinks are not recommended for children
  • High caffeine soft drinks should not be promoted or marketed to those under 16.

Quite right.

Energy drinks can contain high levels of caffeine, usually about 80 milligrams (mg) of caffeine in a small 250ml can - the same as three cans of cola or a mug of instant coffee. Some of the smaller 'shot style' products can contain anywhere from 80mg to as much as 175mg of caffeine in a 60ml bottle.

These drinks are clearly not aimed at children. They do not form part of a sensible diet and can destroy concentration levels – ruining lessons for pupils and teachers alike.

We want our young people to get the best possible start in life – both in terms of health and physical development and of course in terms of their education.

So, while I’m sure some pupils and maybe one or two parents will be critical of the ban, I applaud Mr Slough for taking a stand and would urge other head teachers across the city to follow his lead.

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