NOWRA Country Women’s Association members have joined more than 13,600 NSW members and supporters in signing a petition to call for a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children under 18.
The petition was presented to the House of Representatives last Thursday.
Nowra CWA secretary and Wollondilly Group president Lynne Grady said she hoped the petition would raise awareness of the dangers of energy drink consumption in the local community.
“We were approached to sign the petition some time last year and there are a lot of people here and from other local branches including Berry, Milton and the Southern Highlands branches who are all for it,” she said.
“The trouble is there are local children who have hyperactive tendencies when they consume these drinks and they think they can go without sleep and are potentially burning their bodies out.
“I hope this will act as a wakeup call to a lot of people and make them realise this is something that has to be controlled because what these children are doing to their bodies is wrong.”
Australian Medical Association president Dr Steve Hambleton, who has supported the proposal, said the increase in the number of incidents of caffeine toxicity from energy drink consumption among adolescents was alarming.
“We are very concerned about the number of teenagers being adversely affected by energy drinks,” he said.
“The dangers of over-consumption are significant and I think many parents and teenagers are unaware of the risks.”
NSW president Tanya Cameron said protecting children from substances such as alcohol and tobacco should be extended to energy drinks.
“Energy drinks contain high amounts of caffeine mixed with ingredients like taurine, guarana, glucuronolactone and ginseng, which elevate the heart rate, blood pressure and disrupts sleep,” she said.
“To children, this is dangerous, especially when these beverages can be purchased practically anywhere with no limit as to how many can be bought at one time.
“The higher rate of caffeine found in most energy drinks can cause insomnia, headaches, rapid heart rate, nervousness, hypertension, anxiety and diarrhoea; not to mention developing a dependence on caffeine.”
Mrs Cameron said research had shown the sale of energy drinks has grown by more than 8 per cent a year.
“Last year they made up more than 35 per cent of all drinks sold in convenience stores, outdoing soft drinks, which came in at 31.5 per cent,” she said.
“In my experience, the CWA has a good understanding of issues that are important in the community.”