A consultation has been launched in Scotland to examine the potential implications of a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children.
The consultation opens today, 30 October, and will run until 4 February 2020; examining the possibility of implementing a stricter mandatory age restriction on soft drinks containing high levels of caffeine. Hospitals and publicly funded gyms across Scotland have already implemented bans on energy drinks sales to children under 16 amid concerns over the adverse health effects of excessive caffeine consumption. Up to a third of young people in Scotland report consuming energy drinks regularly or in large quantities of three drinks or more in a single sitting, with 11% reporting they consume energy drinks daily.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends children and young people consume no more than 3mg of caffeine per kilogramme of body weight per day; several single serve cans of energy drinks exceed this, depending on the size of the child. Research has linked regular consumption of energy drinks, which contain more than 150mg of caffeine per litre, among young people to harmful symptoms including headaches, stomach pain and trouble sleeping.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “Sleep is particularly important for the health and wellbeing of adolescents and poor sleep can negatively affect physical and mental health, as well as educational attainment. I welcome the leadership shown by many retailers and publicly funded leisure centres in banning the sales of energy drinks to under 16s. This builds on regulations in place in schools and hospitals. We want to take proportionate action to reduce the health risks associated with young people consuming energy drinks with artificially high levels of caffeine, and responses to this consultation will inform decisions on whether a mandatory sales age restriction of 16 is appropriate and if so, how best to implement the ban.”