Is fast food making us fat?

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Is fast food making us fat?

Should we be concerned about the number of fast food meals our family eats?  

The average UK diet appears to be in dire need of an overhaul.  It contains more than the recommended levels of sugar, salt and fat and less fruit and veg than the 5-a-day guidelines –  only 26% of adults met the fruit and veg target. 15 year olds fare much better with 52% stating they get their recommended daily intake *

This situation is not helped by the increase in the number of fast food outlets appearing on the high streets and in our suburbs

*  Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet England: 2017

The Guardian’s recent article about Takeaways has an interactive map showing the proliferation of fast food outlets.  Simply enter your location or post code.

Take-aways and ‘fast food’ tend to be high in fat, salt, calories and sugar; making them an unhealthy food choice when eaten regularly. It has also been shown that people who eat quickly and until full are more likely to be overweight.


fast food

Being overweight can lead to obesity, which if left unchecked can increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, raised blood pressure and some cancers. Currently ⅔ of adults and ⅓ of 10-11 year olds in England are obese or overweight.

Is there ‘good’ fast food?

Maybe, is the short answer. The longer answer is, choose your fast food wisely and make them an occasional treat rather than a daily necessity. Try and avoid the breadcrumbed versions, high calorie sauces, the thin cut fries, processed meat additions, calorie ladened ‘sides’ and the large bottles of fizzy drinks. Here are some examples of the good(ish), the bad and the downright ugly!


The KFC Chicken flamin’ wrap has an acceptable 305 calories but nearly 3 teaspoons of fat and over ¼ teaspoon of salt and sugar.  And definitely keep away from their treats; the White Chocolate Krushems has 435 calories and a whopping 15 teaspoons of sugar.

To put that in to context, that’s double the government’s recommendation for the daily amount of added sugar 

The McDonald’s Filet-o-fish, which is probably one of the least fattening choices in their range still has 329 calories, 3 teaspoons of fat, ½  teaspoons of sugar and over ¼ teaspoons of salt. The other chains are similar; the lowest calorie Subway is roast chicken with 5 salad items at 306 calories, almost 1 teaspoon of fat, nearly 1½ teaspoons of sugar and over ¼ teaspoon of salt. It only remains that low if no dressings are added. However if you chose the Chicken and bacon ranch melt the calories etc increase – 503 calories, nearly 5 teaspoons of fat,  almost 2 teaspoons of sugar and over ½ teaspoon of salt.

And don’t be fooled by the salads; although the Subway Meatball Marinara salad only boasts a waist nipping 270 calories it contains over 3 teaspoons of sugar and nearly 4 teaspoons of fat.

You’d  also be wise not to assume that the vegetarian choice is the ‘healthier’ option.  In all cases a vegetarian burger, sub or wrap could contain more calories, salt, sugar and fat than the meat or fish basic version. For instance the McDonald’s vegetable deluxe has 400 cals, nearly 4 teaspoons of fat, 3 teaspoons of sugar and over ¼ teaspoon of salt

Probably the worst offenders of them all is Burger Kings Steakhouse king at 1100 calories and 24g of saturated fat, that’s over half a woman’s calorie consumption and all her saturated fat intake for the whole day!

And Dominos ‘scrummy’ small classic crust pizza – 1152 calories, almost 13 teaspoons of fat, 3 ½ teaspoons of sugar and almost 2 teaspoons of salt

On the good side if you are vegan, you will probably be an infrequent visitor to these places.  Thankfully (for some of you!) they haven’t yet incorporated many vegan options in to their menus.  All Dominos pizza bases include milk powder, you can enjoy Subways veggie delight (various salad items on a sub or salad), KFC, McDonalds and Burger King only have a few vegan sides like corn on the cob, fries, apple pie and green beans.

20623898_10154869962571903_22678629_nSo please don’t be in a rush to eat fast food

Obesity – It will be the death of us

Obesity – It will be the death of us

ObesityThe latest health figures for the over 40s makes pretty somber reading.  83% of 40 to 60 year-olds are either drinking too much, are inactive or are overweight. Particularly, 77% of men and 63% of women in middle-age are either overweight or obese


Obesity is rising for all age groups including children, and I believe we are in an obesity crisis situation.  Public Health England (PHE) created a new initiative called ‘One You’ for the over 40s to try and engage them in healthy eating and lifestyles so as they age they still maintain good health.





Why not take their ‘How Are You’ quiz. It will help anyone who wants to take stock to find out quickly where they can take a little changes to make a big difference to their health.






The Nottingham Post asked for my views on this tricky subject. You can read the article either on line or in yesterdays paper.

But what do you think we need to do?




One of the knock on effects of obesity is the increased risk of certain illness including heart disease, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes alone is costing the NHS over £10 billion a year and 80% of the issues they treat in hospital are about managing avoidable complications


So what can be done?  

I believe it has to be a combined approach, with the individual at the heart of it.  They need to take responsibility for their own and their family’s health; by looking at portion control, how often they eat ready/processed or takeaway meals, how often are children given fizzy drinks, sweets and chocolates. What level of activity to they undertake?  Some simple solutions are sit-down less and move more.  This can also be carried out at work; try and take breaks from your desk regularly, have a walk at lunch time, get off the bus one/two walkingstops earlier and walk the rest of the way home.  Buddying up with a friend is a good way to maintain an exercise programme.


I am getting more enquiries from parents who want to come and learn to cook with their children, so as a family they can eat healthily.  And its great watching them learn together and make a meal that is healthy and delicious.  I also give healthy eating advice and get vegan cookery poster jpegthe family to try different ingredients, and offer simple tips to make the shopping cheaper such as buying frozen veg, make soup with leftovers and what ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ really means in an attempt to avoid food waste

portion-sizesI advise that when out doing the food shop, never do it when you are hungry, make a list, plan your meals in advance so you don’t get sucked in to buy the special offers or be tempted by the cakes, desserts and crisps


_68243258_foodlabelManufacturers/supermarkets also need to take a responsibility; have more special offers on healthy food like fruits, veg, wholegrains etc.  Have clearer labelling on the front of the packets, especially about portion size.  Posters in the shops about the benefits of fruits and veg, recipe cards with simple, quick and cheap family meals

The government needs to deliver stronger and harder hitting messages about the dangers of obesity, type 2 diabetes etc (a bit like the smoking campaigns). And offer helpful advice about portion control, cheap healthy quick family meals etc

Schools need to follow on with a consistent message about healthy eating; get children growing veg, cooking, helping in the community.  Their school meals could use some of the homegrown veg and have fewer vending machines on the premises.

fast-food-outletsLocal planners could look at how many fast food outlets, sweet shops etc are located near schools or near housing estates and take a responsible view


So I believe we all have a responsibility is tackling this epidemic.

Think twice before having a cake with your coffee!

Think twice before having a cake with your coffee!

High street coffee shops in Nottinghamshire are selling muffins and cakes with the sugar equivalent of up to six doughnuts.

Its that time of year when many of us are hitting the High Street in a mad dash to finish (or even start) our Christmas shopping.  And what better way to get through it than stop for a caffeine pick me up.  Its also hard to resist the cakes and biscuits that stare at you as you wait to be served

cocta-cake-offferThe cafes and restaurants are also keen to get you to buy and their ‘up-selling’ skills are highly tuned!.

Take for instance Costa’s latest offer.  In the first week of December if you bought a Medio or Massimo drink from their Christmas range you could have any cake for just £1!

That could total over 1000 calories or half a woman’s daily calorie intake. But even more worryingly your coffee and cake combo could contain a whopping 114g or 28½ teaspoons of sugar.  Compare that to the daily recommended maximum of 25 teaspoons.

This week Holly Skelton from Notts TV interviewed me about this very subject, her full report can be read here




Other coffee chains are also muscling in; at Starbucks order an almond or cinnamon Swedish bun with a tall Latte for only £3.50.  The price may seem reasonable but you’ll be consuming over 700 calories and 46gs or 11½ teaspoons of sugar.  Better than Costa to be fair!






Caffe Nero also has a festive range; opt for their regular amaretto hot chocolate (with whipped cream) accompanied by a slice of festive chocolate fudge cake and your calorie tally will climb to just over 1000 calories and a belly busting 107g or nearly 27 teaspoons of sugar




Do you feel pressured in to buying more than you need? 

How to survive the sugar onslaught!

My 3 top tips

Tip #1 – simply consider only having a hot drink.  Always ask for it in a takeaway cup, as it stays hotter and you’re more likely to take your time and feel fuller.  And don’t always be persuaded to ‘go large’!

Tip #2 – If you must have a sweet treat, buy the smallest one that you like.  This might be a biscotti, mince pie, oat or ginger biscuit

Tip #3 – If you really fancy a slice of festive cake, muffin or biscuit then share it with a friend, or wrap the other half in a serviette and take it home for another time or give it to a friend or family member



Portion control

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

Over 60% of the UK adult population is currently overweight or obese, and we all have a responsibility to reduce that statistic including fast food outlets, schools, supermarkets, cafes and food manufacturers

IMG_2782Research has shown that when people are presented with larger portion sizes, they will eat more and most people underestimate how many calories they consume each day by as much as 25%.



imagesSince the 1980s, typical servings have increased dramatically: a bag of crisps has grown from 25g to 40g. ‘Big Eat’ bags have 50% more than standard bags – a bag of Walker’s crisps, for example, now contains 55g – that’s 290 calories and 18g of fat, compared to 130 cals and 8g of fat in 25g.


Soft drinks are still sold in 330ml cans (139 cals for a can of Coke), but 500ml bottles of are just as popular (210 cals in a bottle of Coke).

IMG_1082King-size and pocket pack chocolate bars are up to twice the size of regular bars – a Mars Big One has 100 calories more than a regular bar, while a King-Sized Snickers has 200 extra calories than the regular version.  There are now even 1 and a half bars of chocolate and Bounty bars are available in triple packs!

Double and triple burgers (with all the extras) are available from every burger chain. If you double-up your cheeseburger in McDonald’s, for example, you increase your calories from 300 to 440, and your fat intake from 11.5g to 23 g.  Pasta servings and nearly five times bigger than they were 20 years ago.

portion control 1 Ready meals have also ballooned over the past 15 years with products such as curry, cottage pies, pasta dishes and casseroles now weighing on average 400g nearly twice the size they were in the 1990’s.

You’re not even safe in the local coffee shop – Your morning caffeine fix in the 50s would be 45 calories. Nowadays, a 16oz (450ml) takeout coffee with mocha syrup would be 350 calories.


And how many times are you asked if you want to ‘go large’?


Modern main course bowl on the left. 1970s plate on the right


Even the standard dinner plate used in most restaurants and homes has increased from 10 to 12 inches!

Recent research has revealed that smaller plates, cups, glasses and bowls could reduce overall calorie intake by up to 16 per cent.



This is called portion distortion and it’s making us fat!
 The more we eat the more calories we consume

Are you shocked by this, did you have any idea that food portion sizes have been on the increase?

To put it in to context eating just 200 extra calories a day over a year can mean a weight gain of over a stone (6.3 Kg)

So what is a correct portion size?

  • A 75g serving of meat, poultry or fish is the same size as the palm of your hand
  • A medium potato is the same size as your computer mouse
  • pasta-portionKeep portions of cheese to 25g – around the same size as a matchbox
  • A medium piece of fruit is the same size as your fist
  • A serving of rice is half a teacup (75g uncooked weight)
  • A serving of vegetables is about 80g
  • A teaspoon of butter or margarine is the size of the tip of your thumb.

A useful guide is to use your hand as a visual template:

palmProtein like meat, fish, poultry, tofu lentils, eggs should be no bigger than the palm of your hand




Carbohydrates like bread rice pasta should fit into one cupped handcupped hand




cupped handsFruit and vegetables should fit in to two cupped hands




For more information about the increase in portion size please click on this link to the Food Standards Agency booklet

Tackling childhood obesity

Tackling childhood obesity

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

childhood obesityIf like me, you’re interested in nutrition and wellbeing you have probably seen that the childhood obesity plan has finally been published. But like me you may be disappointed by its content.



Lets look at the positives

  • The introduction of a soft drinks industry levy (sugar tax), to come into force in 2 years time
  • nom nomsA 5% reduction of sugar in products popular with children over the next year. The eventual target is a voluntary 20% sugar cut over the next four years.
  • Those popular products are breakfast cereals, yoghurts, biscuits, cakes, confectionery, pastries, puddings, ice cream and sweet spreads
  • Primary schools to provide at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day and support families to do the same amount at home.
  • More funds for school sport – from the sugar tax
  • Targets for sugar content per 100g of product; no specific amounts given


And what’s missing?

  • IMG_2710No restrictions on junk food marketing and advertising during popular family TV programmes
  • No Ban on price-cutting promotions of junk food in supermarkets,
  • No compulsory ‘front of pack’ traffic light labelling system


You might well be wondering what all the fuss is about and why you should be concerned about your child’s weight?

I think this extract from the strategy says it all………

Today nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese and younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer. Reducing obesity levels will save lives as obesity doubles the risk of dying prematurely. Obese adults are seven times more likely to become a type 2 diabetic than adults of a healthy weight, which may cause blindness or limb amputation. And not only are obese people more likely to get physical health conditions like heart disease, they are also more likely to be living with conditions like depression


If you are concerned about your child’s weight or you would like them to eat a wider variety of foods, then why not book in for a nutrition consultation with me.  I also offer cookery classes.  07946 301338

So over to you

Will this strategy make you think about sugar and junk food?

Will you be reading labels and vetoing certain foods for your children?

Will you be getting them to play more and sit less?

Will you be buying fewer *sugary drinks?


*If you are confused about the amount of sugar in food and drinks this simple calculation may help


Divide the amount of sugar in grams by 4 to get the number teaspoons. In this example, each cake bar contains 12.9 g or more than 3 teaspoons of sugar (12.9 / 4).  To put that in to context, children should be eating no more than 5-7 (added) teaspoons of sugar a day

Simply veg

Cooking up a storm!

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

coucousI’m half way through my vegetarian and vegan cookery classes in my converted convent in West Bridgford. So far my guests have cooked quinoa salad, spicy chickpeas with spring cabbage and cauliflower couscous. What’s waiting for them in the coming weeks is chocolate chia pudding with dates, spicy Thai tofu curry and spiralised sweet potato with kale


couscous1It is not all about ‘simply veg'; my aim is to show how easy it is to cook healthy simple yet tasty vegan food, which can be enjoyed by the whole family, eaten by one person or adapted for meat and fish eaters. Interspersed within the cooking is nutritional advice and cooking tips, such as freezing leftover herbs in ice cube trays, how lemon juice can take the place of salt as a flavouring, the importance of fibre and ways to reduce sugar intake.


ingredients2There is growing evidence that a more plant-based diet has positive health benefits, ranging from a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers to weight loss.


If you fancy trying something new, want to cook with others and learn some nutritional tips then contact me and we can get you booked in


Classes generally start at 11am on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On a Tuesday they start at 12.30pm and 5.30pm . Each class lasts an hour and 15 minutes and all the ingredients and equipment are provided. All this for just £25. But if you book 6 sessions in advance you only pay for 5



There is no time limit on when you come for your 6 sessions, so feel free to take a break

phone  Call 07946 301338

Chubby or Obese?

Is your child a healthy weight?

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

For almost a year we have been told by the Government that its Childhood Obesity Strategy will be published shortly, but we are still waiting.  It is hoped to cover issues such obese childas a 9pm watershed for junk food advertising, a sugar tax, a ban on junk food at supermarket checkouts and reduced sugar and salt levels in manufactured products; to name but a few

When should you be concerned about your child’s weight?

When the School  sends them home with an NHS letter saying their weight is a potential issue; part of the National Child Measurement Programme?

When your GP recommends they attend child weight loss classes?

childhood obesityWhen your child complains of being bullied or not being picked for team activities?

Or maybe none of the above because you child is just chubby, its puppy fat, you don’t want to pressure them or its nothing to worry about.  But what if it is something to worry about. Recent statistics show that more than a third of UK children (from the ages of 2 – 15) are overweight or obese and it increases with age.

Tackling this potentially issue early might be the key. 

5 simple things you can do

1.  Consider finding out if your child is in a healthy weight range.

2.  Try and prepare simple meals that are eaten at the table with the whole family, such as

  • IMG_6847wholemeal pasta bake (with lots of blitzed up veggies in the sauce) and a crunchy cheese and breadcrumb topping.  Served with a colourful salad
  • Quorn sausages with mashed potato and carrots, served with peas and veggie gravy
  • Wraps filled with crunchy lettuce and tomatoes and roasted chicken or left over Spag bol mince.
  • Tinned sardines (in tomato sauce) on wholemeal bagels or muffins, or stuffed in to a pitta bread with salad and sweetcornIMG_6782
  • Sweet potato wedges with baked beans and grated cheese
  • Homemade pizza with lots of veggies and cheese.  served with a colourful salad
  • courgette spiraliseCut vegetables into interesting shapes – a spiraliser or vegetable peeler is great for doing the job




3.   Make sure your child is eating the correct portion size for their age

kids portion size

4.  Go to the supermarket with a shopping list and when you have all eaten; you are less likely to impulse buy and be persuaded by offers or sugary fatty foods

5.  11873788_10153625340999015_4728823108939216858_nSpend more time outdoors as a family; not only will it increase your vitamin D levels, which is needed for healthy bones, boosting your immune system and to keep your brain in good health, but it helps will fitness and calorie burning





child activity levels jpeg



This shows the amount of activity that a child should be doing


Here’s a list of some local activities taking place in the Nottingham area

over the summer holidays


July 31st West Bridgford Family fun day – West Bridgford Park 13738353_10204908103702460_3688449296979538302_o-696x456


1st August between 1- 4pm  – Eastwood Road, Kimberley.  Enjoy free fun with a wide range of activities such as Sumo suits, frisbee, face painting, henna tattoos, giant outdoor games (Jenga and Connect 4), Tug of War, circus skills and many other old school park games.

2nd August between 1-4pm – Play dates at William Lee Memorial Park, Calverton.  Lots of imaginative fun for parents and kid

lark web image3rd August – Lark in the Park

4th August between 1- 4pm  – Coronation Park, Eastwood. Enjoy free fun with a wide range of activities

4, 7, 12, 15 and 20 August – In to the forest, Forest Recreation Ground

Meet at the pavilion at 11am on any of the above dates and enjoy a host of free activities from scavenger hunting to tree safaris.


5th – 7th August-  Nottingham Riverside Festival weekend images-5

5th August 5 – Highfields Park play area.  Orienteering challenge



f71870a09e0d970aa4ceedddf8500c72939247b1_1845th August – Mad Hatters tea party – 2-5pm at maid Marion Way, Nottingham

From 6th August – Free Summer Events at Skylarks Nature Reserve

8th August between 2-6pm – Parkfest Litchfield Park, Hucknall.  Ideal for kids aged 10-19, choose from water ball, rodeo bull, inflatables, coconut shy, henna art, tag rugby, rounders, football, skateboarding, limbo dance, BBQ and lots more.

11th August, between 1-4pm  – Hickings Lane, Stapleford.  Enjoy free fun with a wide range of activities

12th August  – Wollaton Park courtyard.   Orienteering challenge

12th August, from 11am – Clifton Playing Fields.  Picnic in the park

13th August between 1- 4pm  – Arnot Hill Park, Arnold.  Enjoy free fun with a wide range of activities

19th August  – Cowlick Woods play area.  Orienteering challenge

20th – 21st August –  Nottingham Caribbean Carnival weekend, Nottingham Embankment. 12noon to 8pm on both days

26th – 29th  August: Summer Nights Film Festival at Wollaton Park.  Watch outdoor film screenings of Mad Max: Fury Road, Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves, The Dark Knight Rises, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


If you know of any other summertime activities then please let me know

children’s portion size

Are you concerned about how much your toddler eats, do you know what a correct portion size looks like?

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

During National Childhood Obesity Week I’m writing a couple of articles about looking after your child’s health.  What and how much you feed them is key; many toddlers are being overfed by parents who give adult portion sizes BBC News

obese childAs many as a fifth of all 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese. Children who are a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn and are more self-confident. They are also less likely to have low self esteem or be bullied. And crucially they are much less likely to have health problems in later life.

For advice and guidance visit the Infant and toddler website; it has an interactive table showing portion sizes for all the food groups

kids portion size

If you have any advice about children’s portion sizes, then please feel free to share it here

Below is a poster from the British Nutrition Foundation website that clearly states what a child’s food intake should be.  This may help you to give your child a balanced healthy diet

Toddler portion sizes

Some simple tips

  • Start with smaller meals and see if your child asks for more
  • Don’t pressure a child to clear their plate
  • Use smaller plates
  • Try and sit at a table and have more family meals
  • Don’t rush meal times

mini meals



This is a great document that has 303 fun first foods to try when weaning and beyond; with helpful portions sizes


Are vegetarians less likely to get diabetes?

Is there a link with vegetarianism and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes?

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

We are coming to the end of Diabetes week, so I thought we should end on a potential high note.

“How becoming a vegetarian can CURE type 2 diabetes: Plant-based diets improve blood sugar levels” scientists claim


IMG_0848Now as a life long vegetarian and strong believer in the benefits of a plant based diet I would love this headline to be true.  So is it?

Well, to a degree; according to the NHS; in their recent article  they state being veggie could have ‘slight benefits in diabetes’.  The study, on which the headline was based found a vegetarian diet led to a quite modest fall in only one measure of blood glucose called HbA1C.

Diabetes UK also believe there is merit in going veggie.  They say “These foods are higher in fibre, antioxidants, folate and phytochemicals, which are all good for our general health”


gym and foodBeing vegetarian or a part time veggie, if you follow the ‘meat free Monday’ campaign has long been associated with better health, including

  • living longer
  • a reduced risk of heart disease and bowl cancer – due to the lack of red meat
  • a reduced risk of obesity  – because vegetarians tend to weigh less than meat eaters.  And as over half the UK adult population is overweight or obese this is something we should all take seriously.
  • And now we can add a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes


If you decide to try being veggie, how do you start?




Obviously it means cutting out meat and fish, but protein is a valuable part of a healthy balanced diet and should therefore be included.  Here are some tasty protein rich alternatives



IMG_6235Tinned beans and lentils – from a simple hummus to a shepherds pie made with lentils

Quinoa – use in place of cous cous for a protein rich salad

Eggs –  in a simple frittata , or cracked into spiced up peppers and tomatoes

Cheese – use small amounts (28g) grated over roasted veg or a baked sweet potato

IMG_6263Quorn – a quick veggie sausage casserole using tinned beans and tomatoes and as much spice as you can handle, or a Quorn mince spag bol using courgetti

IMG_1826Nuts and seeds – great in muesli, for slow releasing energy, or in a pesto dish

Tofu – a natural low cholesterol ingredient that is a perfect match for a stir fry with cashew nuts

Peas – these are bursting with protein, so enjoy a pea and mint soup, pea risotto or have a plateful with your main meal


Click here for more of my simple but delicious recipes

I would love to hear about your favourite veggie recipe

Caffeine and kids

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website

energy drinksDo you know how much caffeine your children are consuming, do you think its something you should be checking or do you not know what all the fuss is about?

It’s recently hit the headlines that teenagers are consuming large amounts of energy drinks to get them through their exams. The NASUWT, the teachers union is calling for the Government  to commission independent research into energy drink use and the long-term effects on health.



news 1


In adults excess caffeine can lead to a caffeine habit and dependency, but experts are not sure what it will do to children in the long term.  But they worry that it may affect their behaviour.


During a normal day your child may consume more caffeine than you think

a can of 500ml energy drink 160g

a can of cola has around 40mg of caffeine

a cup of tea  – upto 80mg

a cup of instant coffee has around 100mg,

a mug of filter coffee has around 140mg

small bar of milk chocolate – 25mg

painkillers and cold and flu medications generally contain between 50 and 120mg

The guidelines for adult daily consumption of caffeine is clear

  • Pregnant women – 200mg
  • Everyone else – 400mg

But it is less clear for children.  When researching this article I found guidelines that said 100mg is a safe limit and another that 3mg per kilo of body weight is.  Therefore a 50kg child should consume a maximum of 150mg.  Based on either of those guidelines if your child has one energy drink they could be exceeding that safe limit



This week I was contacted by Gem106, radio to talk about this issue.  Here are two very brief news clips (20 seconds each)


“So what”, you might be thinking.  Well, an excess of caffeine in children could lead to

  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • palpitations
  • energy ‘crash’
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased bone loss – especially worrying for teenage girls
  • poor sleep

Many of the energy drinks come in 500ml cans, so a child is consuming large amounts of caffeine in one go.  They are often high in sugar also.  Monster contains nearly 14 teaspoons of sugar.  This high level may condition a child to crave sweet things, and could lead to an increase in weight

At a time when many children need to be at the top of their game, caffeine can sabotage all their hard work.  In small amounts caffeine can enhance mood and brain function, but so can natural foods

Whats the alternative?

first of all stay hydrated – water and milk are healthy options, weak green tea can also boost concentration

snack on nuts, dried fruits and seeds – they contain a mix of serotonin (mood IMG_2578enhancer), antioxidants (boosting the immune system), dopamine (a brain chemical involved in increasing motivation and concentration), zinc (to boost brain function) and omega 3 fatty acids (help the brains ability to think and process). Muesli is a great option as it also contains oats, which are great for heart health and delivering energy slowly (so no ‘crashes’)

yoghurt and fresh fruit  – the vitamin C helps to improve mental agility, high in fibre (helps to sustain a regular level of energy) ripe bananas also contain dopamine

peanut butter and rice cakes – contain B vitamins (good for memory and concentration) and fibre

IMG_6060veggie sticks with hummus  – packed with antioxidants, protein and fibre

Eggs  and avocado on wholemeal toast – full of good fats, antioxidants, protein,vitamins, especially vitamin E


The Foods Standards Agency confirms that drinks that contain caffeine from whatever source at a level over 150mg per litre (mg/l) must state: ‘High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breast-feeding women’. Supermarkets including Asda and Tesco  state they do not sell energy drinks to youngsters and ask for proof of age.

So do you think its about time national guidelines on recommended consumption levels of caffeine for children are introduced?