Sports drinks have grown popularity among people who are active in sports or who are physically active. However, recently, concerns on the use of sports drink have grown a lot especially among children. Parents and coaches have been hearing conflicting advice over the safety of these drinks for the young athlete, as well as the child who may be drinking them while not active in a sport. So, the question has come up: “Should children use sports drinks?” While it may not be possible to answer the question entirely, as there will always be differing opinions, some facts should be considered while looking at some of the common misconceptions.
•Less acid content of sports drink which prevents dental cavities
Unlike fruit juices and soft drinks, sports drinks have a lesser acid content which may cause dental caries and the same reason for the advice that straw should be used when drinking any acidic drink, that is, to prevent dental erosion.
•Water is not always the best hydrator. In less than 45 minutes, water can quench thirst but for only short periods of physical activity. Sports drinks on the other hand, since it contains electrolytes, it can definitely rehydrate a person during a vigorous physical activity which will maintain performance levels and water can be used along with these drinks to stop thirst.
•Sports drinks have lesser sugar content preventing weight gain. In contrast to most of fruit juices or soft drinks, the sugar in sports drinks is half the amount found in fruit juices and soft drink. Sports drinks only become a problem if they are not used properly, as with any other juice. Sports drinks are best if taken just before and during physical activity, with water being the drink of choice through the rest of the day.
•Sports drinks are no higher in salt than a glass of milk or a piece of bread. Sodium will actually stimulate a child’s thirst, which is a good thing since children do not typically have a good voluntary intake of fluid.
•Sports drinks do not cause stomach upset, as long as large amounts are not consumed in a short period of time. These drinks actually work to stimulate the rate at which fluids and carbohydrates empty from the stomach.
Do not interchange sports drink and energy drinks because they are not the same. Energy drinks are not safe for children as they contain high levels of caffeine in them. These high levels of caffeine can disrupt sleep, cause anxiety and even bedwetting problems. Energy drinks also contain high levels of carbohydrates – almost double that of sports drinks. Sports drinks only contain salts and carbohydrates to replace those lost during perspiration, while energy drinks contain caffeine to act as a stimulant for short bursts of energy.
In the end, should children use sports drinks? Provided they are not being used inappropriately, these drinks are generally safe and are a good source of necessary hydration for children involved in high activity sports.