Northern Ireland consumers are being urged to ditch energy drinks as the annual sales of energy and sports drink products are worth a staggering £59 million.
And if you’re a dedicated energy drink fiend, you might want to look away now, as shocking stats looking at the consumption of energy drinks in Ireland have revealed that some brands can contain up to 16 teaspoons of sugar. Alongside an amount of caffeine equivalent to two espressos in one can.
It also found that there are now 17 brands and 39 separate products available to consumers in Northern Ireland, in comparison to only 10 products in 2002 (290% increase).
The research found that males aged 15-24 were the highest consumers of energy drinks (64%) with over half (54%) consuming them at least once a week.
The average price of an energy drink in Northern Ireland is £1.19 with the lowest being supermarket own-brands at 50p per can.
Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood commented: “It’s really remarkable that energy and sports drink products are so prevalent, that together they comprise 14% of the Northern Ireland soft drinks market, commanding a bigger share than Juice (13%) or water (10%) branded products.
“Consumption can have health consequences because of their sugar and caffeine content. A typical 250 ml can contain 6 teaspoons of sugar, the equivalent of a full chocolate bar.”
The research also highlights that the leading energy drink brands are also supported by extensive marketing campaigns, particularly on digital and social media, aimed specifically at active young people with a focus on high adrenalin sports and music.
Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan added: “Energy drinks and sports drinks combined accounted for over £1.5 million in advertising spend last year across the Island of Ireland. Energy Drink brands are targeting young, impressionable audience, through various promotions and sponsorships, whether that’s high-energy sports, live events, music streaming or mobile apps.
“safefood reiterates that these drinks are not suitable for children under 16 or for rehydration purposes following sport. Furthermore, the marketing of these products should be undertaken without any ambiguity or association with sport or alcohol. An awareness campaign of the potential health issues targeted specifically at young people, is something that needs to happen.”