SCOTTISH campaigners are leading a drive to ban the sale of energy drinks to children by taking their case to Europe.

Scottish MEP Catherine Stihler and Edinburgh councillor Norma Austin Hart, who founded the Responsible Retailing of Energy Drinks (RRED) campaign, have called for the restricted sale of brands such as Red Bull and Monster to over 16s.

The group is also calling for retailers not to sell high energy drinks to children under that age.

The campaigners have hosted a forum in the European Parliament in Brussels to highlight the issue.

In a statement they said that Scottish parents and teachers "regularly witness youngsters drink as many as four cans of energy drink a day despite the label stating they are not suitable for children."

Consumption of energy drinks has been linked to disruptive and hyperactive behaviour as well as health problems such as chest pains, headaches and sleep disorders.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 68 per cent of adolescents and 18 per cent of children under 10 regularly consume energy drinks.

Ms Stihler said: "On the back of the recent European study, we ask if it's time for regulatory change.

"Should it be possible for children to buy something in every supermarket and corner shop which can harm their health?

"Retailers have a responsibility in the areas they operate in so I support moves to restrict the sale of energy drinks to those 16 and over. "Without further studies it is impossible to tell what the continued consumption of these drinks might mean for our young people as they grow up."

The European Commission requested the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) deliver a scientific opinion on the safety of caffeine, including energy drinks.

The EFSA reviewed over 300 pieces of existing research into the effects of caffeine on the body and nervous system and their report, released last year, says energy drinks are not required for a healthy child’s diet.

Councillor Hart added: "We are here to campaign for legislation to protect children from the consumption of caffeinated soft drinks.

"Everyone agrees they have no place in a child's diet - there's a warning on every can - but retailers refuse to ban sales to children.

"We need our legislators to act on behalf of children and I am here seeking the support of MEPs to introduce a sales ban to under-16s and more responsible marketing and labelling."

The study recommendation of 3mg caffeine/kg of body weight means the daily consumption of one small energy drink (250ml) in a daily diet is at the limit of the safe amount for an average nine-year-old child.

Regulation of energy drink sales is not harmonised across the EU.

Some member states have introduced rules on sales to children but in others, such as the UK, these drinks are available.

Action on Sugar, another campaign group, have called for energy drinks to be banned for children.

It recently surveyed the nutritional labels of 197 drinks found in supermarkets and online.

One had up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per 250ml, twice as much as others surveyed.

It is thought teenagers get 30 per cent of their sugar from soft drinks.

Health officials say government campaigns already encourage people to have fewer sugary drinks.

In 2013, the supermarket Morrisons trialled a ban of the sale of such drinks to under-16s in Glasgow and five other locations.