Should Kids be Sipping Sports Drinks?
Sports drinks have been getting a bad rap in the media lately: critics say the stuff is sugary and caloric, and has been linked with obesity and tooth decay. But sports drinks could be crucial for hydrating young athletes, the New York Times reports.
One of the main causes of dehydration is failing to replace fluids before and after exercise. Itâ€™s easy to forget a water bottle, but scientists are finding that sports drinks might provide an extra incentive to drink up. In a Canadian study conducted in the 1990s, kids voluntarily downed 44.5% more grape-flavored water than unflavored. When the drink contained 6 percent carbohydrates and electrolytes, they drank 91 percent more than the water alone. When the main goal is keeping kids hydrated, sports drinks do the trick.
Kids over the age of 12 who participate in multiple sports practices might benefit the most from sports drinks. The salt in drinks helps the body retain fluid, while the carbs and electrolytes replenish fuel. However, nutritionists say that sedentary kids shouldnâ€™t be sipping the Gatorade. Like any other sugary beverage, it racks up unnecessary calories that wonâ€™t be burnt off through exercise.
Whether kids choose sports drinks or tap water, hydration is key during exercise. Remind your child to take frequent water breaks, and consider adding lemons to a pitcher of chilled water to enhance the taste. But donâ€™t sweat the occasional sports drink if it makes staying hydrated more fun.