Headteacher warns 6-year-olds are downing power drinks as she backs ban

A primary school headteacher has said kids as young as six are drinking energy drinks as she backed Labour’s plans to ban them for under 16s.

Sandra Marsden, 51, said her school has seen high levels of tooth decay and children complaining of toothache to teachers. Jamie Oliver also backed the energy drinks proposal, as revealed by the Mirror, calling it a “really exciting” plan.

Ms Marsden praised Labour’s “amazing” idea to roll out a supervised toothbrushing programme for three to five year olds. Keir Starmer and Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting on Tuesday visited Whale Hill Primary School in Middlesbrough to take part in a session.

The Labour leader helped kids put toothpaste on their brushes and reminded them to brush for two minutes. Speaking after the lesson, Ms Marsden said: “You can see how enthusiastic our children are, how confident they are doing it and see the importance of doing it as well.”

Keir Starmer helped put toothpaste on kids brushes as he launched Labour's plan for supervising toothbrushing sessions in schools

Keir Starmer helped put toothpaste on kids brushes as he launched Labour’s plan for supervising toothbrushing sessions in schools

The headteacher said Prime energy drinks were a particular problem for children. “I think the phase that they’ve gone through with Prime drinks and the promotion,” she said. “The shops have actually promoted it to the point that children will want to buy it. We’ve seen some of our six and seven-year-olds openly say that they drink them so it is a concern.” She added: “We have seen high levels of decay in our children’s teeth, but that’s because a lot of people can’t get registered with a dentist.”

Ms Marsden said energy drinks cause “concentration or hyperactivity” issues among kids. “It’s difficult to tell whether it’s having an impact on behaviour, but clearly it will have if some of these children are drinking them on a regular basis,” she added. The headteacher, who is a mum of two, says she brought up her kids without any fizzy drinks, energy drinks or milkshakes, adding that educating parents of the harm is important.

Up to a third of children in the UK consume caffeinated energy drinks every week, with boys more likely to buy them. Products such as Prime Energy, Monster and Rockstar have become increasingly popular. TV chef Mr Oliver said children are “bouncing off the walls” in classrooms, adding: “You would be amazed if you saw how many kids have breakfast in the form of an energy drink.”

He welcomed Labour prioritising the issue as he said “child health hasn’t been put central to any manifesto in the last 20 years, ever, ever, ever”. “It means they’re looking at the detail, it means they’re looking at the science,” he added.

Speaking to reporters on the campaign trail yesterday(TUE), Mr Starmer said: “The state of the nation can be measured in many respects by the health of our children. It’s in a terrible place.” He added: “I mean Monster, I think, is the number one.

“Just to give you a sense of that, the caffeine in that is the equivalent of several espressos, which is why it’s having such an effect on children’s behaviour. Talk to anyone who’s in a school and they’ll tell you what the problem is. But also it’s got a very detrimental effect on their teeth.”

Under Labour’s plan, energy drinks containing over 150mg of caffeine per litre will be banned. The rules will be enforced by trading standards The party has also pledged an extra 100,000 urgent dental appointments for kids in a bid to clear backlogs in England, as well as banning junk food adverts on TV before 9pm.