Should Kids Eat Energy Bars and Other Supplements Under The Age of 16 in the UK? – William M-S and Byron H

23 May 2024

Ever since energy bars were created in the 1960s, intended for space travel, they have become increasingly popular in the UK. Recently, many teenagers and children under the age of 16 have started to consume these supplements. This ongoing problem has created confusion and controversy. Many teenagers wanted to receive more protein and carbohydrates, some thought that it would just appear, and these so called “super” bars would make them better athletes instantly.

What is an energy supplement?

Energy supplements are commonly found in bars and powders, but also in gels and tablets. Energy supplements are usually made with a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat ingredients and can be consumed without the need for refrigeration or preparation therefore are good for keen cyclists so you can just have it on the go.

They enhance your performance during physical activity by providing sustained energy and nutritional support. Their nutrients help us stay energized and focused.

Why would people take it instead of a meal?

While this might sound ridiculous it has all the same amounts of calories and proteins as well as carbohydrates and fibres that you would get in a regular meal, if not more. These meal replacements are very popular with high endurance athletes, as the meal replacements also gives extra nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Why are they bad?

Some of the more elite and exclusive energy supplements can be more expensive than a normal meal. 

Most children do not need extra protein. Mr Matt Aldred, a sporting enthusiast and a games teacher at The Beacon said that you should eat “a well-balanced diet containing at least 5 portions of fruit and veg, as well as vegetables high in protein like beans, chickpeas and lentils”. Along with unnecessary proteins, some bars may contain extra calories from added sugars, unhealthy fats, and extra carbohydrates that are intended for endurance adult athletes. This can also be bad for a child’s diet if they consume too much of it.

It is important that you investigate several nutrition companies and find bars with low sugar and high proteins and carbohydrates. Energy bars are not about taste but for fitness and health. It is better to eat a bar that you do not like and has a rubbish flavour rather than a sweet, sugary option.

What could consuming them young do to you?

Most energy bars give you extra calories from added sugars, unhealthy fats, and extra carbohydrates. This is because the bars are intended for endurance adult athletes and if you are a child, you do not burn as many calories, especially if you take them as a child who does not do much exercise.  Mr Aldred also said, “Some of these products contain caffeine and some of these side effects can impact sleep and growth.”

What do the Experts say?

Warren Pole, founder of 33 fuel, a Natural Sports Nutrition company said that children shouldn’t eat energy bars and other supplements, as “90% of them are ultra processed foods” and if you should only consume them if you “do a lot of activity, where eating real meals is not possible” and you need extra calories and proteins. Warren also said that without these supplements, teenagers should “stay active, push your body, particularly as you hit your teenage years”.

Dino, the head chef at The Beacon said, that you should make your own energy bars so you “know the ingredients, unlike in factories, where it is a completely different and almost impossible to find the real ingredients.”


Overall Energy bars are good for children who regularly do intense fitness training or sports, however for your average child under 16 they should not be taking any energy supplements. This is because it can have many negative effects for children and can disrupt your growth and even mental health.