Campaign against the sale of energy drinks to children

normaaustinhartCouncillor Norma Austin Hart hails exciting news in her campaign to restrict the sale of energy drinks to children across Scotland.


Community-based campaigns can stretch beyond the locality to achieve national impact. The campaign for the Responsible Retail of Energy Drinks (RRED for short) is doing just that. I started RRED in 2013 after listening to parents and teachers describing how children’s behaviour deteriorates after consuming high caffeine energy drinks. Everyone agrees that these drinks are not good for children and have no place in a child’s diet.

Astonishingly though, there is almost no research about the impact of energy drinks’ stimulants on young people, even though it states clearly on every can ‘NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN’. There is also no legislation to restrict their sale so when I approached the big four supermarkets they all refused to consider adopting the RRED policy. RRED is based on this principle:

Retailers make a living from a local community and so have some responsibility for the well-being of that community, especially its younger members.

With a couple of friends who are parents or have young nieces and nephews, I set up RRED and have been campaigning for restricted sales ever since. Our long-term goal is legislation.

We now have several local shops and two RRED schools who are using the RRED campaign to raise awareness with pupils, teachers and local shops about energy drinks. We also work with the Education Institute of Scotland and the Royal College of Physicians who support the RRED campaign. We are in negotiations with the Scottish Grocers Federation to set up a pilot RRED scheme with some of their members.

The big news this week is that Edinburgh Leisure, the capital’s sports trust, has agreed to ban energy drinks in all fifteen of its cafés and sales outlets. RRED wrote to Glasgow Life immediately asking them to follow EL’s good practice and they have also agreed to do the same. Next week, I will contact all sports trusts in Scotland asking them to become RRED retailers.

The Sunday Herald and Scotsman newspapers have given the campaign positive coverage.

RRED uses social media, print and press to get its messages out. We also appreciate the support we have had from Community Union and will continue working with them on issues which affect its members and their families.

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2 thoughts on “Campaign against the sale of energy drinks to children

  1. Honestly, this seems very much like nothing more than a unjust crusade against energy drinks. You say yourself, almost no research has been conducted on the matter and your “evidence” in the first paragraph seems largely anecdotal. The fact that major retailers are being pressured into withdrawing or at least limiting the sale of these drinks (which I will admit to being a regular consumer of) based on little to no evidence is quite frankly worrying. This has been my view since first hearing of the campaign at the Scottish Labour Conference last year and it is very unlikely to change in the future unless I am made aware of some very convincing arguments to the contrary. Please, if you do have any actual evidence to back up your campaign, do tell me; I’d be interested to read it.

  2. My article states that there is very little research into the impact of energy drinks on young people. There is plenty of research into the impact of energy rinks on adults, try this link to the NHS website:
    Potential risks include:
    palpitations, high blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, convulsions,type 2 diabetes, late miscarriages, low birthweight and stillbirths in pregnant women,
    poor dental health and somewhat ironically, given their association with sportiness, obesity.
    If they can do this to adults what can they do to children? James Gillespies High School in Edinburgh conducted a survey in October last year.Over 80% of the teachers surveyed said that the consumption of energy drinks by children under 16 is a serious issue. The Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh supports the RRED campaign and is looking into how research could be funded. RRED is campaigning for this issue to be taken seriously by retailers and we will eventually go for legislation to ban sales to children. Like Lithuania.

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