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A qualitative study to explore the use of energy drinks by children and young people in England

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Shelina Visram, Dr Debbie Riby


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BackgroundMarketing of commercial energy drinks appears to target young people, although these drinks are generally not recommended for consumption by under 16s. Teachers in the UK have expressed growing concern about the effects on classroom behaviour, but little research has been conducted with school-age children. This study aimed to investigate children’s perceptions of energy drinks and what effects they are perceived to produce, in order to inform the development of tailored resources and interventions.MethodsEight focus groups have been conducted with pupils (n = 37) from primary and secondary schools in England, in addition to semi-structured interviews with school staff (n = 11). Interviews with parents are also underway. All data have been transcribed verbatim and analysed using the constant comparative approach. Preliminary analyses and intervention options will be discussed with stakeholders, including children and families, at an upcoming participatory workshop.FindingsEmerging themes include the role of branding and marketing on young people’s choices, in addition to the influence of parents, siblings and peers. The data highlight similarities and differences between the children’s views and those of the adult participants, as well as gender and age differences amongst the children. There is heterogeneity in the motivations, perceived benefits and risks, and reported effects associated with energy drink consumption. Suggestions have been put forward by participants to address these issues, and subsequent discussions will consider how these might work, and for whom.ConclusionsAlthough data collection is ongoing, a number of important issues have already begun to emerge. Given that this is the first in-depth UK-based study on this topic, we are confident that it will continue to generate findings of interest to diverse academic, practitioner and lay audiences.Key messagesBranding and marketing play an important role in young people's consumption choicesThere are key differences between children's views on energy drinks and those of adults, as well as gender and age differences amongst children

Publication metadata

Author(s): Visram S, Crossley SJ, Cheetham M, Lake AA, Riby D

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 8th European Public Health Conference

Year of Conference: 2015

Pages: 119-120

Print publication date: 05/10/2015

Acceptance date: 05/10/2015

ISSN: 1101-1262

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckv170.090

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 1464360X