Waitriose has become the first UK supermarket to ban the sales of energy drinks to under-16s, following concerns from health officials about high levels of sugar and caffeine affecting children’s well-being.

The supermarket chain will voluntarily stop customers from buying drinks containing more than 150 mg of caffeine per litre, unless they can prove they are over 16, from 5 March.

Waitrose’s director of technical and corporate social responsibility, Simon Moore, said: “As a responsible retailer, we want to sell these products in line with the labelling guidance.

“These drinks carry advice stating that they are not recommended for children, so we’re choosing to proactively act on that guidance, particularly given the widespread concerns which have been raised about these drinks when consumed by under-16s.”

High caffeine energy drinks have become increasingly popular with many children and teenagers. This is despite industry rules meaning that any soft drink with more than 150 mg of caffeine per litre must carry a high caffeine content warning and state it is not recommended for children.

Last month, the teachers’ union NASUWT called for the sale of energy drinks to be banned to under-16s, describing the beverages as ‘legal highs’ that contributed to bad behaviour in schools.

Charities such as Action on Sugar have also called for a similar ban to be introduced.