Should kids drink sports drinks

Should children use sports drinks

There has been much concern recently over the use of sports drinks for children. Parents and coaches have been hearing conflicting advice over the safety of these drinks for the young athlete, as well as the child who may be drinking them while not active in a sport.

 

So, the question has come up: “Should children use sports drinks?” While it may not be possible to answer the question entirely, as there will always be differing opinions, some facts should be considered while looking at some of the common misconceptions.

 

•Sports drinks do not cause any more cavities than many fruit juices and soft drinks, as they do not contain any more acid than these drinks. Children should always be encouraged to drink any acidic drink through a straw to prevent dental erosion.

 

•Water is not always the best hydrator. Water is good as a thirst quencher, and for only short periods of physical activity of less than 45 minutes. Sports drinks provide fuel and electrolytes needed for vigorous physical activities in order to maintain performance levels, and water can be used along with these drinks to stop thirst.

 

•Sports drinks will not cause weight gain and they are not high in sugar. Most of the sports drinks actually contain less than half the amount of sugar than other fruit juices or soft drinks. Sports drinks only become a problem if they are not used properly, as with any other juice. Sports drinks are best if taken just before and during physical activity, with water being the drink of choice through the rest of the day.

 

•Sports drinks are no higher in salt than a glass of milk or a piece of bread. Sodium will actually stimulate a child’s thirst, which is a good thing since children do not typically have a good voluntary intake of fluid.

 

•Sports drinks do not cause stomach upset, as long as large amounts are not consumed in a short period of time. These drinks actually work to stimulate the rate at which fluids and carbohydrates empty from the stomach.

 

It is important to realize that sports drinks and energy drinks are not the same. Energy drinks are not safe for children as they contain high levels of caffeine in them. These high levels of caffeine can disrupt sleep, cause anxiety and even bedwetting problems. Energy drinks also contain high levels of carbohydrates – almost double that of sports drinks. Sports drinks only contain salts and carbohydrates to replace those lost during perspiration, while energy drinks contain caffeine to act as a stimulant for short bursts of energy.

In the end, should children use sports drinks? Provided they are not being used inappropriately, these drinks are generally safe and are a good source of necessary hydration for children involved in high activity sports.

RESOURCES

American Academy of Pediatrics: Kids Should Not Consume Energy Drinks and Rarely need Sports Drinks
http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Kids-Should-Not-Consume-Energy-Drinks,-and-Rarely-Need-Sports-Drinks,-Says-AAP.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken

Pediatrics: Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents are they appropriate
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/6/1182.full

Cleveland.com: Sports Drinks are Usually Unnecessary for Kids
http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2011/06/sports_drinks_are_usually_unne.html

Harvard Health: Trade Sports Drinks for Water
http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/trade-sports-drinks-for-water-201207305079

KidsHealth: Sports and Energy Drinks
http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/healthy_eating/power_drinks.html

Healthy Eating Research: Consumption of Sports Drinks by children and Adolescents
http://www.healthyeatingresearch.org/images/stories/her_research_briefs/RRSportsDrinkFINAL6-2012.pdf

NPR: Pediatricians Warn Against Energy and Sports Drinks
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/05/31/136722667/pediatricians-warn-against-energy-and-sports-drinks-for-kids

Mother Nature Network: Are Sports Drinks Safe for Kids
http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/questions/are-sports-drinks-safe-for-kids

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