Sports Drinks Aren't as Healthy as You Think

Filed under: News, In The News, Weird But True, Nutrition: Tweens, Research Reveals: Tweens, Nutrition: Teens, Research Reveals: Teens, New In Pop Culture

sports drinks

Sporty? Try sugary. Credit: Getty Images

Your kid comes off the soccer field, sweating and tired. He walks over to the vending machine to get a drink, but instead of hitting the soda button, he goes for a sports drink, opting for what he thinks is the healthy option.

He might as well have had the soda.

Sports drinks are not all they're cracked up to be, according to a new report in Pediatrics.

"They're almost as sweet as Coke," Dr. Nalini Ranjit, assistant professor of behavioral sciences at the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at the University of Texas School of Public Health and the study's lead author, tells ParentDish. "They're not healthy, even though that's what you've been told."

Ranjit and her colleagues looked at data from a survey of more than 15,000 Texas middle and high school students, noting the kids' consumption of soda and sports beverages. They examined the association of each drink with the kids' levels of unhealthy eating, healthy eating, physical activity and sedentary activity, which included the time they spent watching television, using the computer and playing video games, the report says.

Both sodas and sports drink were associated with bad eating and inactivity, but consumption of sports drinks was also linked with good eating and exercise. That connection didn't exist in the soda drinkers.

Because the sports drinkers had other healthy habits -- for example, they were more likely than their soda-drinking counterparts to drink milk, eat fruits and vegetables and exercise -- the researchers concluded that the kids believed sports drinks were good for them.

"Many kids who are not drinking soda, they think it's OK to drink these," Ranjit tells ParentDish.

The report says obesity efforts need to address that misperception and teach people that sports drinks are loaded with sugar. Athletes don't need the electrolytes, Ranjit says, adding that parents need to be aware of the unhealthy habits connected with those beverages.

"The more they drink, the more likely they are to be watching TV and consuming unhealthy snacks," she says.

Related: Sippy Cup Full of Soda -- How Bad?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.