Sale of high-energy drinks will be restricted in Scottish hospitals to under-16s

Author: Ingrid Torjesen

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The sale of high-energy drinks to under-16s is to be banned in hospitals in Scotland.

The restriction will apply to drinks with an added caffeine content of more than 150mg/litre.

The ban is included in an update to the Healthcare Retail Standard (HRS), a set of criteria which all retailers operating in NHS sites in Scotland must adhere to.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “The Healthcare Retail Standard supports healthier eating across the NHS estate and it is right that our hospitals show a lead in providing food and drink which is health promoting.

“The HRS ensures that at least 50% of food and 70% of drinks on sale are healthier options.

“This supports the Scottish government’s strategy of working to improve Scotland’s diet and tackle health inequalities.”

Professor Steve Turner, officer for Scotland for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said energy drinks are consumed by more than two-thirds of 10 to 17-year-olds and contribute to the country’s high obesity rates.

Energy drinks often contain a number of ingredients, such as amino acids, sweeteners, sugars and caffeine, which are not beneficial to our diet, and “are seen as a quick fix in fighting fatigue when in fact, they often have the opposite effect,” he said.

“They can make children irritable and lethargic.” he said.

“We want similar measures put in place off NHS sites, to protect and improve child health across Scotland. We would like to see a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children under the age of 16 alongside the introduction of a minimum price across all energy drinks brands. We’d also like to see clear sponsorship rules for events and sport athletes, ensuring these drinks are not glamourised and targeted at impressionable children.”

The update to the HRS is attempting to increase the amount of healthier food and drinks in shops in NHS buildings and also includes tighter rules around what can be promoted. It also includes new restrictions on baby food to ensure healthy eating behaviours are instilled at the earliest possible stage. Products will have to contain no added sugar or salt and be unsweetened.

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