Cross-sectional surveys of the amount of sugar, energy and caffeine in sugary soft drinks marketed and consumed as energy drinks in the UK between 2015 and 2017: monitoring reformulation progress
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Objectives. To investigate the sugar, energy and caffeine content of sugar-sweetened drinks marketed and consumed as energy drinks available in the UK. Study design. We carried out a cross-sectional survey in 2015 and 2017 of energy drinks available in the main UK retailers. Methods. The sugar (sugars g/100 mL), energy (kcal/100 mL), caffeine (mg/100 mL) and serving size were collected from product packaging and nutrition information panels of energy drinks available in the nine main UK grocery retailers, three health and beauty retailers and one convenience store. Results. The number of formulations (per 100 mL) and number of products (per serving) have fallen (from 75 to 49 and from 90 to 59) between 2015 and 2017, respectively. Energy drinks surveyed showed a 10% reduction in sugar, from 10.6 to 9.5 g/100 mL (P=0.011) and a 6% reduction in energy content (P=0.005) per 100 mL between 2015 and 2017. The average caffeine content of energy drinks, with a warning label, has remained high at 31.5±0.9 in 2015 and 31.3±1.0 mg/100 mL in 2017. Despite there being reductions, sugar, energy and caffeine content remain at concerning levels in 2017. Conclusions. To reduce the harmful impact of energy drinks, further reduction in sugar and a reduction in caffeine by reformulation are urgently needed. Other measures such as ban on the sale of energy drinks to children and smaller product sizes should also be explored, while warning labels should be kept. A reduction in sugar, energy and caffeine content and overall energy drinks consumption could be beneficial in reducing sugar, energy and caffeine intake of consumers of energy drinks.