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​Sports Drinks & Their Tie To Childhood Obesity

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At the beginning of every year, most of us make resolutions to improve our health. I’m no different. This year, as part of my healthy eating goals, I decided to take some steps to reduce the simple sugars that my family and I consume. One of these steps included completely cutting out sports drinks from my kids’ diet.

This might seem like a pretty drastic step, considering sports drinks are a staple beverage in most family fridges. However, I believe they actually do more harm than good to our kids’ health and may even contribute to the rising cases of childhood obesity. I did some research on my own and found that my suspicions were right.

What Do Sports Drinks Contain?

Sports drinks are marketed as healthy alternatives to soda and juices and most parents buying them believe they have nutritive value. However, experts are worried about the high number of children drinking sports drinks unnecessarily and have raised alarm over the negative health impact this might have.

So what exactly do sports drinks contain? Well, though the content varies with individual brands, a typical sports drink contains water, carbohydrates in form of sugars as well as electrolytes (mainly sodium and potassium). The sugars or sweeteners commonly found in these drinks include high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, sucrose, fructose or brown rice syrup. These sugars are the ones that present a major health concern.

Because sports drinks are primarily formulated to help people rehydrate and re-energize during or after intense physical activity, they’re usually rich in carbohydrates and simple sugars which are the most efficient sources of energy for the body. In fact, some 32-ounce bottles of full-calorie sports drinks contain as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar! This is beneficial for athletes and individuals who regularly engage in heavy exercise since it can easily be broken down to provide energy for the muscles.

The Health Impact on Children

The high sugar content in sports drinks is detrimental to kids’ health. Unlike athletes, most children today are simply not active enough to burn all the extra calories in these beverages. Their energy demands are not that high. It is, therefore, no surprise that all these calories accumulate in the body, increasing the risk of overweight or childhood obesity.

The sugar in sports drinks isn’t the only thing to worry about. These beverages also contain citric acid which dentists believe erodes the tooth enamel, exposing kids to cavities and tooth decay. Don’t forget the extra sodium intake too, which children could definitely do without.

These are the reasons that informed the sports drink ban in our house. Nowadays, if my children want to cool down after a hard day of playing, I make sure they have plenty of clean drinking water, freshly-made juice or nutritious smoothies. These are not only thirst-quenching but also provide an extra nutritional boost to help my kids grow healthy and strong.

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