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Play Every Day Blog > Posts > Kids don't need sports drinks, water is best


February 09
Kids don't need sports drinks, water is best

Some advertising will tell you that your kids need to replenish their bodies with sports drinks when they get out and play.

They don’t. Drink Water Poster ANTHC.jpg

Leading health organizations that promote children’s
health state that kids only need water to rehydrate when they are playing most sports or being physically active. The
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says “Sports and energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and adolescents, but in most cases kids don’t need them – and some of these products contain substances that could be harmful to children.”
 “For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best,” Dr. Holly Benjamin, who was a member of the AAP’s Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, stated in a 2011 report about sports and energy drinks. “Sports drinks contain extra calories that children don’t need, and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay.“
Play Every Day is sharing that message in a new TV public service announcement that began airing statewide this month. The PSA features Alaska children playing basketball. Preston Pollard, a professional skateboarder who grew up in Alaska, voices the main message:  Just because you play sports doesn’t mean you need sports drinks. Water and a healthy snack is all you need to bounce back when you get out and play.
Sports drinks have only a small amount of electrolytes — minerals that you lose when you sweat — but they come packed with a large amount of added sugar. A typical 20-ounce sports drink that’s sold on grocery store shelves or in vending machines has about 9 teaspoons of added sugar.
Is 9 teaspoons too much? For the first time, the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans delivered a recommended limit to the amount of added sugar we eat and drink every day. The limit is 10 percent or fewer of total daily calories. That means a moderately active 8-year-old boy should have no more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar each day. If he drinks a sports drink on the soccer field, he’s almost reached his added sugar limit in one drink alone — and that doesn’t count all the added sugars in his cereal at breakfast, granola bar at snack, jelly on his sandwich, even spaghetti sauce with dinner.
“When parents choose drinks for their kids, the best choice they can make is water or low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks,” said Karol Fink, a registered dietitian and manager of Alaska’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program.
To learn more about the large amount of sugar hiding in sports drinks and other sugary drinks, visit Play Every Day. Email if you’d like posters and short lesson plans related to sugary drinks for your school, clinic or business.