CHILDREN should be banned from buying energy drinks because of the risks to their health, according to a new report.

Research suggests energy drinks – many of which are promoted by leading sports stars – can cause headaches, stomach pain and sleeping problems because of their high caffeine and sugar content.

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But a survey involving 16 European countries, including the UK, shows more than two-thirds of 11 to 18-year-olds and nearly one-fifth of under-10s regularly consume the caffeinated drinks.

Red Bull, Lucozade Energy, Lucozade Sport and Monster Energy, part-owned by Coca-Cola - Britain’s biggest-selling energy drinks - are among the most popular brands in the UK.

The new report, published by the Food Research Collaboration, highlights figures from the US that show emergency department visits caused by energy drinks have doubled between 2007 and 2011.

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The reports says UK policy makers must act against excessive consumption by British kids – who are the biggest customers in Europe.

Study author Kawther Hashem, a nutritionist and researcher at pressure group Action on Sugar based at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Children and teenagers are being deceived into drinking large cans of energy drinks, thinking they are going to improve their performance at school, during sports, or even on a night out.

“In reality, it’s more likely increasing their risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental caries, which will have lifelong implications on their health.”

“The Government needs to set strict limits on added sugars in these products and ban the sale to children under 16 because of their high caffeine, calorie and sugar content.”

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The UK Government has already announced a tax on sugary drinks as a step towards tackling childhood obesity but the researchers say energy drinks usually contain high amounts of both sugar and caffeine.