New health guidelines could restrict the sale of high-caffeine energy drinks to children in Wales.
During a debate Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford said the government will consider a public awareness campaign for parents.
Concerns had been raised because of the health impact of the drinks on children and behaviour in schools.
Welsh member of parliament Jenny Rathbone said that it was the “role of the state to regulate” what people eat and drink.
She said: “Energy drinks are a multi-million pound business which is growing faster than any other sector of the drinks industry.
“Worldwide sales increased by 14% in 2011 and that’s despite being in the middle of a global recession
“My focus is on energy drinks because of the stimulants they contain, mainly caffeine, which are harmful to children.”
Prof Drakeford said he would write to the chair of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) urging them to consider the outcomes of a European review into the effect of high-caffeine energy drinks, and would explore opportunities to improve messages to children and young people about dangers of the drinks.
He added: “We’ve recently undertaken a consultation on whether we need a Public Health Bill in Wales and in considering the next steps which potential legislation might take in helping to address public health priorities in Wales, there are some modest contributions which we could make through such a Bill to addressing the concerns Members have raised here this afternoon.”
Energy drinks high in caffeine have been linked to possible health effects, with Prof Drakeford saying that some drinks contain up to seven times the amount of caffeine as a standard can of coke.
A study this year revealed that three-quarters of 16 to 24-year-olds now consume high caffeine drinks.
But Mid and West Wales AM Simon Thomas said: “There are many issues that we could be discussing today which have a greater and more direct impact on the nation’s health. For example, we could be discussing minimum alcohol pricing which could have a far greater impact on behaviour and would promote safer consumption.
“We should be giving the government space to get on with the major tasks facing public health in Wales while we as an Assembly hold them to account. We need to use persuasion and information to change public behaviour not criticism and haranguing.”