Hi-energy drinks banned in Scottish leisure centres for under-16s

Hi-energy drinks have come under fire. Picture: Robert Perry
Hi-energy drinks have come under fire. Picture: Robert Perry
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Publicly funded leisure centres in all Scottish local authorities have banned the sale of high-energy soft drinks to young people under the age of 16.

The restriction will apply to soft drinks with an added caffeine content of more than 150mg per litre – including popular brands such as Red Bull and Monster Energy.

Community Leisure UK, the umbrella body for over 85 per cent of Scotland’s publicly funded leisure and cultural facilities, which represents providers including Edinburgh Leisure and Glasgow Life, has worked with the Scottish Government to introduce the restriction in the 1,300 facilities they represent.

The seven local authorities not covered by Community Leisure UK have also banned the drinks.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “I welcome the leadership shown by all publicly-funded leisure centres in restricting the sale of energy drinks to young people.

“The Scottish Government recognises that consumption of energy drinks is a significant concern to parents, healthcare professionals and young people.

“This ban delivers on the promise we made in our Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan last year and we have committed to a consultation on restricting the sale of energy drinks to under-16s later this year.”

Kirsty Cumming, Community Leisure UK engagement and policy manager for Scotland, said: “After working closely with both our members and colleagues at Scottish Government, Community Leisure UK is delighted that all members in Scotland have chosen to ban the sale of energy drinks to young people under 16.

“This is an important step in protecting the health of young people across Scotland and we are proud to support the Scottish Government’s promise made in the Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan.”

Research by the World Health Organisation suggests that excessive consumption of energy drinks by children is linked to health problems such as headaches, sleeping problems, irritation and tiredness.

Many larger retailers and supermarkets have voluntarily stopped selling energy drinks to under-16s. In May, the Scottish Government announced a ban on high-energy drinks to under-16s in hospital retail units. This move was matched by all NHS-run catering sites.

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “Obesity is a major public health issue in Scotland so it is welcome news that all local authorities are taking this step.

“We want to see restrictions on promotions and marketing of foods high in salt, fat and sugar, and the SNP Government should not shy away from bold action on this. Most importantly however, we need to see action to make healthy food and drink options more affordable as poverty is so often the root cause of ill health.”

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary, said: “NHS sites as well as many large retailers have already implemented policies not to sell high energy drinks to under-16s.

“There is worrying evidence to suggest that some children are regularly using high energy drinks to replace breakfast.

He added: “These drinks are not for children and so it is welcome to see this restriction on the sale to under-16s being taken forward to limit access to these drinks in other public settings.”