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I looked at my 11-year old's blood pressure reading and thought, 'oh my god, I've killed my daughter' WHAT ENERGY DRINKS DO TO KIDS; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: NADA FARHOUD Consumer Features Editor

Would you let your kids guzzle two cups of coffee for breakfast followed by 16 teaspoons of sugar? Thought not but this is effectively what millions of children, some as young as five, are doing with just one energy drink.

Up to two-thirds of teens and a quarter of under-10s have drinks such as Red Bull, Relentless, Monster Energy and Rockstar, a European Food Safety Authority study found.

And with some at 25p, much cheaper than a Coke or bar of chocolate, these brightly-coloured tins lining shop shelves are the new pocket money favourite.

Last week we revealed Jamie Oliver is leading calls for a ban on sales to under 16s. He believes the drinks are "akin to drugs" and turning our kids into addicts. The dad-of-five said: "If the industry is literally telling us their products are 'not recommended for children' on the cans, why can kids as young as 10 buy them? "This consumption is compromising our kids and our teachers - we have to do something about it. We urgently need the government to restrict the sale to all under 16s."

So far Waitrose has banned sales to youngsters and teacher union NASUWT also called for a law change.

But many parents are oblivious to their children's addiction as youngsters buy the drinks on the way to and from school - unaware of the sugar "highs" and "crashes" that follow.

We asked three mums to record what happened when their children consumed just one energy drink at home under their watchful eye.

The results were shocking

Both needed loo then bickered & got lot chattier

Vanessa Holburn, 48, of Reading, Berks, is mum to Cassie, 11, and Tula, nine. Tried Lucozade, 380ml (50p) and Pink Bolt Zero, 250ml (33p).

"We're an active family - and the children regularly see my husband add energy tablets to water.

"I've also had these products in goody bags after sports events and they've asked if they can have some. My answer has been no - because kids have more than enough energy.

"They were thrilled to try the drinks. Cassie was impressed with the silver can and pink drink, from the unicorn palette girls her age adore. Tula was pleased to discover hers tasted like fizzy orange.

"Within an hour both needed the loo badly. They didn't feel energetic, they said, but got a lot chattier. There was bickering and singing - but that's normal.

"I wonder if Cassie's large heart rate drop was the 'crash' we expect after a sugar high. Her blood pressure rose. Tula's heart rate was the same and her blood pressure dropped a little."

Sam's cheeks flushed and his body was tingling

Claire Dunwell, 39, of Wakefield, West Yorks, is mum to Sam, 11, and Louie, seven. Tried Asda own-brand Blue Charge, 250ml (25p) and Rockstar Revolt Energy, 500ml (89p)

"It's 9am and Sam and Louie think I've lost the plot when I swap their usual glass of milk for an energy drink. Fizzy pop is usually out of bounds.

"I start early or they'll be bouncing off walls come midnight. Sweet-tooth Louie guzzles his Rockstar in minutes but Sam pulls a face at the Asda brand. It smells like Red Bull and turns my stomach but I'm not surprised kids get hooked on the sickly-sweet taste.

"I wait for all hell to break loose.

Sam's cheeks flush and he says his body is tingling. After an hour his heart rate has gone from 81 to 95. Louie is chatting nonstop and struggles to concentrate on his Xbox. When he gets the boxing gloves I usher them outside to burn off energy - but because of the constant noise I suggest they read to calm down and they laugh in my face. At 2pm they're so strung out I stick on a DVD and bribe them to chill, promising chocolate later.

"Normally laid-back Sam is irritable for the rest of the day. At 8pm, I sigh with relief when they flop into bed, their blood pressure and heart rate back to normal.

"Sam called the taste 'disgusting', but Louie says, 'I wish I'd drank it before football, I could've scored more goals'."

I was worried & ready to march them to doctor

Rebecca Jane, 32, of Clitheroe, Lancs, is mum to Peaches, five, and Paris, 11. Tried Red Bull, 250ml (95p) and Monster Energy, 500ml (79p)

"'Oh good God, I think I've killed my daughter'. That was my reaction when I took my 11-year-old's blood pressure and heart rate 20 minutes after giving her an energy drink. I was mortified.

"I will be the first to admit I once had an addiction to Red Bull. I could drink six cans a day. I didn't think they had any effect on me and my daughters saw it as normal.

"Peaches isn't the most healthy child, being overweight. Paris is the opposite, exceptionally healthy and very active.

They were both excited to try their first energy drink in the name of research.

"Both children sat doing nothing - so watching the levels rise was traumatic. The highest readings came between 20 and 35 minutes after consumption. I had severe concerns, if they had gone any higher I was ready to march them to a doctor.

"I was expecting the children to be bouncing off the walls. But, bar giddiness from both over the look of trauma on my face, they seemed perfectly normal. That concerns me most. If I hadn't monitored the findings I would have had no idea. I would probably have let them do it again.

"Thankfully Paris hated the taste.

Peaches only liked the smell, which she described as 'seaweed'. This meant they were more than happy when I told them they will never be allowed another energy drink in their lives. My nerves, conscience and their young, underdeveloped systems simply couldn't handle that again."

Sam, 11 (Blue Charge) Before Blood Pressure: 108/65 Heart Rate: 81 After Blood Pressure: 115/75 Heart Rate: 95 Louie, 7 (Rockstar Revolt) Before Blood Pressure: 101/68 Heart Rate: 72 After Blood Pressure: 111/79 Heart Rate: 87 Paris, 11 (Monster Energy) Before Blood Pressure: 106/65 Heart Rate: 62 After Blood Pressure: 130/79 Heart Rate: 99 Peaches, 5 (Red Bull) Before Blood pressure: 89/60 Heart rate: 87 After Blood pressure: 111/72 Heart rate: 110 SHOCK RESULT Rebecca with Paris & Peaches


ACTIVE Sporty mum Vanessa


ENERGY TO BURN Sam and Louie

EXCITED Peaches tries first can

PLEA Jamie Oliver in Mirror last week
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 9, 2018
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