Teacher’s warning over energy drinks

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The consumption of high-sugar energy drinks by school pupils is contributing to bad behaviour in the classroom, a Newtownabbey teacher has claimed.

Leigh Cooper from Ballyclare, an officer with the Ulster Teachers’ Union (UTU), has warned of the dangers of energy drinks, some of which can contain as much caffeine as three espressos.

“What we are hearing from members is that many believe these drinks are contributing to behavioural problems in class,” she said.

“The problem arises when young people are using the drinks to enable them to stay up until the early hours of the morning and then drink two or three cans filled with sugar and caffeine on the way to school to make up for their lack of sleep.

“Students arrive in class hyperactive and unable to concentrate and then experience the sugar crash later in the school day when the impact of the drinks wears off. Pupils’ behaviour, concentration and energy all suffer.”

The UTU organising officer added: “We are hearing from charities too working with young people who have addiction issues that more are trying to cope with symptoms of anxiety and sleeplessness, which may have been fuelled by excessive consumption of the high-sugar, high-caffeine products. A lot of people do not realise how harmful caffeine can be.

“However, parents can play their part in correcting this trend by encouraging their children to eat and drink healthy lunches, if the children take packed lunches, and by underpinning the work of schools in promoting healthy lifestyles at home.”