These days I am astounded at how many kids are drinking sports drinks, even if they’re not playing sport and just kicking back with friends. Why have sports drinks become the new soft drink?
Commercial sports drinks were initially designed for athletes, who trained and sweated vigorously for prolonged periods, so required electrolytes, rehydration and calorie replenishment. This market is relatively small yet the sports drink market has become a $US 6.81 billion business. Suddenly there are a lot of elite athletes out there….?
Powerade and Gatorade wouldn’t be in big business if the only people who consumed their products were those who actually needed them. These companies cleverly market to sports conscious people and parents of children who play sport, to convince them they are making a healthier choice by consuming these drinks rather than soft drinks. When really, a humble water and possibly a piece of fruit would be of greatest benefit.
We rarely, if ever, lose enough electrolytes during our athletic endeavours to require extra replenishment, unless we are a marathon runner, triathlete or a high performance athlete of some sort. Sodium is the most common electrolyte lost in sweat, yet most of the population get more than enough sodium from their diets.
The American Academy of Paediatrics concludes that “routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks by children and adolescents should be avoided or restricted. Water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents.”
Many sports drinks contain as much sugar and as many chemicals as soft drinks. Some sports-drink bottles contain 2 or 2 1/2 servings, so the grams of sugar listed on the nutrition facts panel may need to be multiplied. And Vitaminwaters aren’t much better, just a chemical cocktail of sugar, additives and few synthetic vitamins, with huge marketing promises on the label. They are all unnecessary.
Here are the sugar contents of a range of beverages.
Water paired with a banana or orange is undeniably a better choice than any sports drink. These fruits are higher in potassium and many other minerals and vitamins than commercial drinks. The natural sugars in these fruits travel into the bloodstream at a steady rate, unlike a manufactured sports drink that causes blood sugar and insulin levels to skyrocket or that delivers a dose of an unhealthy artificial sweetener. No child benefits from 20-plus grams of added sugar and chemical flavourings after a one-hour game.
Just one more reason, to vote with your wallets is the the horrendous effects of plastic on our environment. A timely reminder after helping with a school project, of how our daily choices are contributing to this world-wide catastrophe. Did you know it takes 450 years for one plastic drink bottle to breakdown?
When I hear these numbers, the choice of carrying a stainless steel drink bottle become easy. How about you?
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