According to the ruling, it is now illegal for publicly funded gyms in all local authorities to sell soft drinks with an added caffeine content of more than 150mg per litre to people under 16 years of age.
“The Scottish Government recognises that consumption of energy drinks is of significant concern to parents, healthcare professionals and young people,” said public health minister Joe FitzPatrick when announcing the news this week (4 August).
The decision was made in collaboration with members’ association Community Leisure UK, which represents 85% of Scotland’s publicly funded leisure and cultural facilities.
The additional seven local authorities not associated with the umbrella body have also banned the drinks.
“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,” said Community Leisure UK Engagement and Policy Manager for Scotland, Kirsty Cumming.
“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.”
Consultation on restricting sale of energy drinks to U16s
The move is the latest initiative by the Scottish Government aimed at promoting health and restricting the promotion and advertising of unhealthy food across the country.
In its Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan, which launched in 2018, the Scottish Government confirmed plans to consult on restricting the sale of energy drinks – in all retail outlets – to under-16s.
“The Scottish Government recognises that consumption of energy drinks is a significant concern to parents, teachers and young people. These concerns go beyond the high sugar content that most of these drinks have.
“Teaching unions report issues with behaviour and the last European Food Safety Authority study indicates significantly higher consumption in the UK than our European neighbours.”
The consultation is expected to open later this year.
Energy drinks under fire
Energy drinks have long been criticised for high levels of caffeine and sugar, and their appeal to children and adolescents.
According to research by the World Health Organization, children’s excessive consumption of energy drinks has been linked to headaches, sleeping problems, irritation and tiredness.
In May this year, the Scottish Government announced plans to ban the sale of high-energy drinks to under-16s in hospital units. NHS-run catering sites have also followed suit.
Two months later, the UK government ruled to ban the sale of energy drinks to children under 16 in England across all retail outlets, including supermarkets, convenience stores and vending machines.
Elsewhere in Europe, Lithuania and Latvia have implemented bans on energy drinks to under-18s, and in Sweden, some energy drinks are restricted to sale in pharmacies and cannot be sold to under 15s.