Paediatric dentists are calling for a ban on the sale of high energy drinks to under-16s.

Claire Stevens, President of the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD), said the drinks were damaging to dental health and should not have a place in the diet of children and young people.

She said: 'They are doubly bad for teeth because these drinks have high levels of sugar and they are acidic. This means they can cause both dental decay and erosion, or acid-wear, of teeth.'

Claire said she was delighted to learn that Waitrose had decided to refuse to sell the drinks to young people aged 16 or under from March 5th.

'The step taken by Waitrose is a bold and responsible one,' said Claire. 'But we would like all retailers to come on board and ideally to have legislation introduced to prevent all shopkeepers selling these drinks to under-16s.'

Waitrose took the decision to ban sales to under-16s early in the New Year following a call from the campaigning group Action on Sugar. Researchers from Action on Sugar analysed the levels of sugar, caffeine and carbohydrate in energy drinks and said they were completely inappropriate for children. Their findings were published in BMJ Open in December.

BSPD supports Action on Sugar and also the recommendations arising from research published in the British Dental Journal last year. This research found that nearly 90% of a sample group of 12-14 year olds consumed sports drinks and most of them were aware the drinks were detrimental to dental health. In their conclusion, researchers recommended that work should be undertaken with soft drinks manufacturers both on their marketing and on reformulation.

Several of the energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine which is not good for young people said Claire and in some instances the caffeine content was the equivalent of two cups of coffee.

The BSPD warning about high caffeine drinks comes after a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood (Jan 10th) at which members expressed concerns about high energy drinks and called on the dental profession to continue to raise awareness.