Coffee is to be banned at all South Korean schools, even for teachers, as part of a government campaign to promote healthier living.
The country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced the new curb this week, saying it would kick in at primary, middle and high schools from September 14, reported the Korea Times.
The ministry said the move aimed to tackle the side-effects of consuming too much caffeine including dizziness, a rapid heartbeat, sleep disorders or nervousness.
It warned that continuous caffeine consumption could harm a young child’s physical and mental health.
“The revision aims to create healthy eating habits among children and teenagers,” a ministry official was quoted as saying. “We will make sure coffee is banned at schools without fail.”
Under the current law, products high in calories or caffeine, or low in nutrition are already restricted or banned on school premises, including coffee milk products.
However, coffee has been classified as an adult beverage and has been sold in school vending machines which are readily accessible to students.
There are fears that students may be taking coffee to help them copewith long hours of study and stress. South Korean school pupils traditionally face huge pressures in the fierce competition to get accepted for one of the country’s top universities.
According to the Berkeley Political Review, South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the world for children aged ten to 19.
Most of these suicides are reportedly caused by stress relating to education, with children often spending more than 16 hours a day at school and in after-school programmes, and the school year lasting for 11 months.
Over 26 billion cups of coffee were served to South Koreans in 2017, meaning an average of 512 cups of coffee were consumed per person.
But coffee consumption still remains much lower on average compared with the US, UK and much of Europe.