Hungary moves to ban energy drinks for children

Sodas and energy drinks line the shelves in a grocery store, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
By John Cody
3 Min Read

Hungary’s junior coalition partner, the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP), has submitted to parliament an amendment to the consumer protection law putting energy drinks under the same restrictions as alcohol and sexual products, effectively resulting in a ban for minors.

KDNP MP Lőrinc Nacsa explained that the proportion of children who drink energy drinks is increasing and that most young people see energy drinks as fashionable and consume them almost as sports drinks.

He added that in recent years, there have been hundreds of cases of young people, mostly boys, aged between 12 and 18, who have needed medical attention because of overconsumption of energy drinks.

He also highlighted that several EU and Hungarian medical studies have shown that excessive intake of caffeine and sugar is harmful to the developing body, to the extent that even the Energy Drinks Association has confirmed research that children should not consume caffeine.

Minister of State of the Ministry of the Interior Bence Rétvári said that the government’s priority is children’s health, and to this end, it has previously introduced daily physical education and reformed menus for school meals, as well as the so-called chip tax. He stressed that the majority of young people consider energy drinks to be fashionable, almost like soft drinks, but they contain large amounts of caffeine and can easily become addictive.

Opposition parties are also in favor of the ban

Zoltán Vajda of the opposition Socialist Party (MSZP) stated that while the proposal does not solve all the problems in this area, “it is a very good start,” adding that a healthy lifestyle, including the promotion of healthy drinks, was key, and as a teacher he had seen his students consuming energy drinks on a daily basis.

Right-wing opposition parties Jobbik and Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland) also expressed their support for the amendment, as did the Green LMP party. The LMP’s only objection was essentially unrelated, as they also called for marketing restrictions on overprocessed food.

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