While the volume of soft drinks consumed each year is in decline, energy drinks continue to show a 19% growth since 2012 to 669 million litres in 2017.
We did not rank sports drink brands within this report as they are generally caffeine free and very specific in their function.
Sports drinks are often bought by health conscious consumers as opposed to individuals needing an energy boost. However, the distinction between the two is becoming increasingly blurred.
We have separate guides to soft drinks (including carbonated drinks, juice drinks, flavoured waters and squashes) and a separate cola-flavoured guide because they have a whole market of their own, accounting for 59% of fizzy drinks consumed in 2016.
Caffeine in Energy Drinks
A 250 ml can of Red Bull contains about the same amount as a cup of coffee or two colas. (A cola actually contains less than a cup of tea.)
Consumed in moderation it is fine, but in excess it can cause insomnia, nervousness, headaches, and heart palpitations. Caffeine can also be addictive. While some feel the effects more than others, children are particularly sensitive. Any drink in the UK with more than 15 g per 100 ml must be labelled as ‘high caffeine content’.
One warning-area is energy drinks mixed with alcohol. The combination can create a sense of ‘wide-awake drunkenness’, leading people to underestimate how drunk they are, and increasing the chance of falls, fights and accidents.
If you want that caffeine shot without the add-on issues around soft drinks, cold coffee could be an option. Otherwise James White advertises its Zingers as “a delicious caffeine-free alternative to an espresso to wake you up”. All the brands in our energy drinks table contain caffeine.
The health issues associated with sugar and high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks are well known: tooth cavities, weight gain and associated type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The 2018 sugar tax is expected to have a negative effect on both value and volume sales, although the overall market is forecast to have returned to growth by 2021.
We compared the sugar content in best buy and recommended products, alongside their bestselling, sugar containing counterparts.