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by Louise Wilson
30 May 2023
Scottish Government shelves plan to ban energy drink sales to under-16s

Public health minister Jenni Minto made the statement to parliament on Tuesday

Scottish Government shelves plan to ban energy drink sales to under-16s

The Scottish Government has shelved or paused key measures to tackle rising obesity levels, it has confirmed.

Public health minister Jenni Minto revealed the government will not take forward proposals to ban the sale of energy drinks to under-16s.

Plans to put calorie information on menus have been paused, while the planned bill for restricting promotions on unhealthy food and drink has been ditched in favour of more limited regulations to be consulted on later this year.

Minto said: “Rather than introduce the Public Health (Restriction of Promotions) Bill, I instead plan to consult on the detail of proposed regulations this autumn.

“This includes proposals to restrict the promotion of less healthy food and drinks in prominent locations in store, for example at the end of aisles and beside checkouts.

“We also propose to target certain price promotions which encourage people to buy more than they actually need, for example multibuys and unlimited refills.”

The government floated all three measures in its 2018 diet and healthy weight delivery plan.

Consultations took place between 2019 and 2022.

The minister said that following the consultation on energy drinks, there was not sufficient evidence to introduce a ban on sales to children and the government would instead “continue to support” voluntary measures.

On calorie counts, the government has pressed paused while further analysis into the impact of the measure on those with eating disorders is undertaken. Public Health Scotland is expected to publish the results of that work in October.

And a further consultation on promotion restrictions is to be brought forward in autumn.

Scottish Tory health spokesman Sandesh Gulhane accused the government of not doing enough to tackle obesity.

He said: “This statement does little to actually address the obesity epidemic sweeping across Scotland. The minister’s statement amounts to: 1) energy drinks – we won’t do this; 2) mandating calorie labelling – we’re not sure; 3) restrictions of promotions – let’s do some more thinking.”

Labour’s Carol Mochan said the announcement “shows little to no progress”.

She added: “The minister should be here to explain why the SNP Scottish Government has made so little progress in this area since the [diet and healthy weight delivery] plan was established five years ago.”

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