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7-ENERGY-DRINKS

St Ninian’s High School takes the lead with ban on high-caffeine energy drinks

The Catholic high school has banned energy drinks – one of the first schools to do so — By RYAN MCDOUGALL

St Ninian’s High School in Kirkintilloch has put a stop to the high-sugar and caffeinated beverages, following calls from both teachers and experts in the UK.

Bans like this follow research recently conducted by academics from Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, which revealed that children between 10-14, particularly boys, are likely to buy energy drinks due to their low costs—with some being as cheap as 25p per can—as well as other factors such as branding, appearing ‘cooler,’ and being influenced by friends.

The school’s headteacher, Paul McLaughlin, said the ban has been around for a few months, but that the school has recently revisited the policy to remind pupils of the negative health effects of high-caffeine and sugar drinks. “It was through health and wellbeing we talked to kids via pupil councils—looking at healthy lifestyles—and we really focused on these energy drinks,” he said.

“I suppose it’s a way of educating what the damage to the teeth and such can be.”

Mr McLaughlin added that the drinks were not completely banned at first, with the decision being made following several assemblies and presentations to the school’s year groups and consultation with parents.

“If a parent had told us that they were unhappy with it and didn’t mind their kids bringing energy drinks into the school then that would have been the end of it obviously,” he said, adding that the school wouldn’t seriously punish a pupil for bringing one of the drinks in and that the ban is there purely in the interest of pupils’ health.

“The kids have responded great to it,” he said. “If you can explain the reasons for it then they’re generally happy with it of course. It does creep back in after a few months though, and this is us revisiting it to keep people reminded as to why the ban’s in place.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers), a body who urged that energy drinks in particular should be banned, said: “These drinks are readily available legal highs and are leading to children and young people consuming high levels of stimulants, with little known about the long-term health impacts.”

He also said ‘teachers are left to deal with’ the effects the drinks can have on their pupils’ behaviour, adding that the lack of awareness surrounding them can mislead pupils and parents into thinking they are ‘just another soft drink.’

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