Sports drinks are designed and marketed for exercise. They were initially developed to replace fluid and electrolytes for elite athletes who were training and competing in hot climates. Now many kids are drinking these, but do they need them? Keep reading to learn more.

Sports drinks usually have 3 main ingredients: water for hydration, sugar for energy, and electrolytes to replace losses from sweat. Electrolytes and sugar found in sports drinks are also in fruits and vegetables like bananas, oranges and tomatoes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most kids get enough electrolytes from eating a well-balanced diet, and sports drinks offer no advantage over plain water. In addition, a typical 12-ounce sports drink has about five teaspoons of added sugar. Many kids consume too much added sugar that can lead to cavities, unhealthy weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

So why are sports drinks popular with kids? Part of the answer may be how and where they are marketed. By posting appealing ads on sports drinks on sites that are likely to be viewed by children, particularly teens, companies create interest in their products. As a result, their sales increase.

Hydration is important, particularly when kids are active. Generally, drinking water before, during and after sports is sufficient. Sports drinks usually aren’t needed unless your child has been exercising for long periods of time or in very hot weather.

If your kids like flavored water, try making one at home using one of our healthy drink recipes. They are low-cost, easy to make, and kid approved!

This article was written and reviewed by Rethink Your Drink Nevada’s team of dietetic professionals.

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