AAP: Sports drinks, energy drinks not recommended for children

AAP: Sports drinks, energy drinks not recommended for children

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SALT LAKE CITY — The American Academy of Pediatrics says children don't need sports drinks, and energy drinks can actually be harmful to them.

The study, which is published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics, says sports drinks and energy drinks are being misused among children. It recommends parents decrease the amount of these types of drinks in their child's diet or, in some cases, eliminate the products all together.

AAP recommendations:
  • Pediatricians should highlight the difference between sports drinks and energy drinks with patients and their parents, and talk about the potential health risks.
  • Energy drinks pose potential health risks because of the stimulants they contain, and should never be consumed by children or adolescents.
  • Routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks by children and adolescents should be avoided or restricted, because they can increase the risk of overweight and obesity, as well as dental erosion.
  • Sports drinks have a limited function for pediatric athletes; they should be ingested when there is a need for rapid replenishment of carbohydrates and/or electrolytes in combination with water during prolonged, vigorous physical activity.
  • Water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents.

Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, are marketed as "refueling" beverages to keep an athlete going. They are designed to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating. But The AAP says kids don't need all the extra stuff that comes with them.

"For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best," Dr. Holly J. Benjamin, co-author of the report, said in a press release. "Sports drinks contain extra calories that children don't need, and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay. It's better for children to drink water during and after exercise."

The report also recommends that children and adolescents steer clear of energy drinks, which are marketed under names such as Monster and Rockstar. These drinks contain stimulants that can have harmful effects on a child's body.

"Some cans or bottles of energy drinks can have more than 500 mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of 14 cans of soda," said Dr. Marcie Beth Schneider, the study's other co-author.

In general, the study says, children should avoid all caffeinated beverages, including soda.

CLICK HERE for more information on this study.

Email: jormond@ksl.com

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