Hospital ban on sale of high-energy drinks to under-16s

The sale of high-energy drinks to under-16s is being banned in hospital retail units. RCPCH's Officer for Scotland welcomes the move to "make NHS hospital sites healthier", but wants "similar measures put in place off NHS sites, to protect and improve child health across Scotland".

Scottish Government's restriction will apply to drinks with an added caffeine content of more than 150mg/litre in NHS hospital shops.

The change is the latest update to the Healthcare Retail Standard, a set of criteria which all retailers operating in NHS sites in Scotland must adhere to. It aims to increase the amount of healthier food and drinks in shops in NHS buildings, with tighter rules around what can be promoted.

The move will be matched by all NHS-run catering sites.

New restrictions on baby food are also being introduced 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.

In response to the move, Professor Steve Turner, RCPCH Officer for Scotland, said:

Energy drinks are seen as a quick fix in fighting fatigue when in fact they often have the opposite effect. They can make children irritable and lethargic. These products often contain a number of ingredients including amino acids, sweeteners, sugars and caffeine – none of which are necessary or beneficial to our diet. We know across the UK, energy drinks are consumed by more than two-thirds of 10 to 17 year-olds and they contribute to this country’s high obesity rates.

These new restrictions show that the Scottish Government is taking steps to make NHS hospital sites healthier for those who work and visit them and for those patients accessing treatment in them. They also give a clear message to us all that high sugar foods are unhealthy and should be avoided.

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.