ENERGY DRINKS EXPLOSION ROCKS UK. Schools lead crisis announcement !

A GENERATION LOSING THEIR WAY

For sometime now, the ease of puchasing low cost or discounted booze has raged in the UK, many would say quite rightly. Supermarkets are cast as chief culprits here for their discount ranges and the apparent ease also with which under 16 years of age youngsters are able to get hold of them.

UK in many areas has become almost resigned to the image of adults prowling the streets or sitting on benches in public places swigging lager, cider and even spirits from early morning to late each night. It makes for an unedifying sight which is made worse by the knowledge that many have purchased their drink using monies provided by the State on the premise of providing for the welfare of what tuns out to be the consumers.

Years of laudable campaigning have had but little effect on the problem of people of Adult age behaving in this manner habitually and over recent years it has become more and more apparent that teenagers, and some even younger have picked up and developed this trait into their own culture. Thus, groups of indiscipined youngsters may be seen nightly huddled in Parks, roadside crannies and even play areas for the very young, swigging from bottles and cans until well past limits of sobriety and thence progressing to take up whatever form of anti social behaviour appeals to them at the time. Graffitti, under age sex, housebreaking, muggings, bullyings, mindless vandalism, the list is endless and paints a bleak picture of an ever increasing element of British Society.

Of course, alcohol abuse and over the past 50 years and increasing drug abuse are moulded into the way things are. Indeed ,in some measure they have always been with us. The gin palaces and laudnum dens of Victorian Britain have not actually gone away but have been in effect replaced by the modern way of achieving gratification for a certain section of the population. The poor, the drunk ,and the drugged it seems, have always been with us.

However, 21st Century Britain, whilst progressing in many areas, seems to make no advance at all in these situations and worse still the numbers of young drawn into such behaviour increases year on year despite the best efforts of Government, Charities and the Constabulory, each in their own way, seeking to curtail and erradicate the problem.

Now, as if this issue were not a big enough one with which to grapple, there comes factual information of a new, almost insidious escalating problem affecting youngsters as young as those in Primary Education and as such, below the age of 11.

The computer age and the virtual wiping out of unskilled worker requirements in Industry ,mine working, and to a large extent maritime related work, has already lead to a large rump of people who come from a background where parents have not worked for a living and now the next generation follows suit. The Devil, it is said, makes work for idle hands, and despite propaganda from Government and Police etc that crime is decreasing, there is little to support that as seen through the eyes of many.

We may well have already lost one generation and according to recent information we are accelerating into losing the next, even quicker.

PERIL IN THE LUCHBOX AND AT THE SWEETSHOP.

As a Primary Schoolboy in the mid 1940"s and following the end of World War Two, I recall our great treat, having walked close on2 miles, {from the age of 5} to school, the opportuinity was afforded us,, before entering the School Gates, to go into what was really nothing but a biggish shed where we could buy sweets as were availble in those more stringent days following the removal of rationing. I seem to reall that favoutites were long strands of licorice called "Boot Laces", large round sweets which changed colour and were known as "Gob Stoppers" amongst others which were carefully weghted out from large bottles which stood on shelves behinfd the serving counter.

In those days 2 ounces was considered quite a portion, restricted by not only cash availability but also product availability, as the Country srtruggled to get back on the feet after the ravages of war.Nowadays, treats come largely pre- wrapped, still full of sugar, and in larger weights. Of course, back in the 1940" s sugar was encouraged as a provider of energy to keep young minds and bodies active and alert for the day of learning ahead. Now we view things differently but as ever, the situation is one where, subject to balance being maintained, the problem either does not exist, or is at least minimised.

An importatnt change has taken place since the 1940"s in respect of the manifestation of social situation. In my class we had 4 lines of desks. The first line housing 10 pupils in dual desks were those already considered to be quicker learners. Row 2 was for those not so quick on the uptake but still able to learn reasonably well. Row 3 was for those struggling to fathom things like the first two rows but still in advance of Row 4 where to be found were those these days we descibe as having "learning difficulties". Those days they were harshly described as "Backward" or "Retarded" Thus across the classroom was laid out a microcosm of the way things were. Those of us in rows 1 and 2 had the fortune to come from what is termed, "lower middle class homes" though none of us knew that at the time. Row 3 came from the semi-skilled working class, whilst those in Row 4 came from whence if any family member worked, it was in manual labour and that work was not constant but subject to demand only.

I cite the above, for from 1945 to 2014, things may not have altered all that much in the fabric but they certainly have in the manifestation. Back then you could pick out the boys from the so called "good homes" for they were well clothed and shod, had bright eyes, stronger developing bodies and were able to hold their attention span for longer than those in Row 3, and even more especially row 4, where the opposites were very apparent.Those boys were often poorly clothed and shod, there was a dullness in their eyes and their ability to concentrate in lessons was far less than with the rest of us. In addition, they were the most susceptible to illnesses like ringworm and even rickets, most were what we would term today ,as seriously underweight as they ate only when money for food was forthcoming and that varied from day to day, week to week. As a result in a school class photograph, the top row boys were easy to spot as they exuded health and vitality in strong fit young bodies. Others presented a frail, skinny appearance with a look the today we would say epitomised hoplessness

In 2014 look at a similar class photo and those from the poorer backgrounds are equally easy to identify, quite simply, as many are already obese or close to it, whilst the boys from the better off homes are often {though not always it must be said}, the ones who look the leaner, though not skinny, by definition. Thus our 1940"s deinition of Skinny = Poor is now not true. Poor =Fat is far more likely to be the case.

It is the homes where benefit payments are the main source, if not the sole source, of income that are leading Britain into a Country of the Obese. 1 in every 5 children entering Primary School at 5 years of age is classified as Obese or becomes Obese before they leave for Secondary Education at the age of 11. It has been calculated that sometime between 2030 and 2050, half the population will be obese. The ramifications for the Country, productivity and effects on the NHS are almost too frightening to contemplate.

So what has all this to do with "ENERGY DRINKS"!

SEARCH THE LUNCH BOX---CHECK THE SWEET SHOP.

These days, many families shun the "school meal", though much hard work has gone into that area to provide substantial hot meals with healthy ingredients to aid sensible development of young bodies. However, many young people, having been nutured at home with fast foods, takeaway meals etc etc. find these not to their liking and opt out in favour of a lunch box from home.

Recently, much good work has been done in analysing the contents of lunch boxes and as may be expected, the findings did nothing to allay fears that the present parenting section pay little regard to what they put in, as long as Junior eats it ! I do not intend here to delve further into that save to say that findings discovered many contained, as a beverage, cans etc of what we term "ENERGY DRINKS"

Further to that , observations were also kept on sweet shops near Schools and it was discovered that many very prominently displayed these drinks to attract the attention of schoolchildren who thus were able to purchase them easily.

Armed with those facts, classroom observations on childrens concentration and behaviour was undertaken. These observations revealed a substantial number of children of varied types, losing concentration quickly, behaving badly in class by walking about, distracting other pupils, throwing pencils etc around and generally disrupting the teaching and learning process for others as well as themselves.

Interviewed, the problem causers revealed that a high proportion took Energy Drinks as a matter of course throughout the schoolday. Analysis of said drinks showed that, for example, they contain as much Caffeine as 2 large coffees as provided by coffee chain stores PLUS 13 spoons of Sugar ! Clearly consuming just one 300ml can with the above included has a real affect upon the metabolism, much of it detrimental as far as young students needs are concerned.

Resulting work involved weaning the young consumers off these drinks on to water and soft drinks containing no added sugar. Young people themselves subsequently confirmed how much this had helped them improve their concentration, behaviour and significantly ,their work grades.

Proof positive that without sensible guidance we clearly have a generation of the young dangerously close to losing their way at a very tender age.

SOFT DRINKS INDUSTRY FAILS TO GRASP THE NETTLE.

The above information ,gained from painstaking work, provides parents and their young charges with the facts they need to help, where such problems as outlined exist. But what of the industry behind the products ? It should be said at the outset here that in certain but specific situations, the so called Energy Drinks have their place. As such there is no apparent case for outright banning of the products and the Industry points to the fact that on the tins they advise that they should not be sold/drunk by u 16"s. However, at the same time they indicate that they are not the Retailers and that, in effect, it is a matter for the retail trade to decide on the issue and not them.

To this observer, that is mealy mouthed at best, since clearly both Manufacturer and Retailer have a like interest in sales generation. So, with little grounds for optimism that there will be self regulation, it seems we again look to Government to deal with the matter and this brings us back full circle from whence we began.

Government imposed restrictions and laws on matters such as Alcohol and Drugs are seen to be easily circumvented by those determined or addicted. In the case of Drugs we have seen provision to be driven underground and for demand to be satis fied by Criminals making fortunes from the driven up prices. Alohol prohibition ,as the USA found out 80 odd years ago does not solve the problem either and, as indicated, the young have a variety of ways to get the drinks they want, often getting Adults to pyurchase on their behalf.

Thus, if legislation and industry control are non starters we are left only with parents as the keys to success. Ithink we all know that , as exemplified by Rows 1,2,3,4 in my 1940"s classroom there will be at best limited success.

I hesitate to come to my conclusion now because I can already hear the groan from Teachers when I say, that largely they are the best chance we have of dealing with this growing phenomena .

I appreciate that a drnk consumed outside the School gate is outside the direct control of the teacher but maybe, just maybe if the teacher can identify that a due cause fot the problem of the pupil then, as the researchers did they could assist in a programme to wean away the consumer and get the results identified earlier.

There is a clear danger here that to do nothing about this matter is not an option unless we wish to escalate the descent of today"s young into the drug and alcohol oblivion it is all too easy to see all around us.

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