HealthWatch: Do Active Children Need Sports Drinks?
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Sports and energy drinks are increasingly popular with children and teens, but a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics says most kids who play recreational sports don’t need sports drinks, Dr. Max Gomez reports.
Twins Emma and Connor Waldron are very active 10-year-olds, so their mom lets them have a sports drink after a tough practice or game.
“My daughter trains for gymnastics. She’s there for 3.5 hours every evening so I let her have it after that and my son after a baseball game,” said mother Meryle Waldron.
“Sports drinks contain carbohydrates which can give you energy but they also give you calories and can contribute to obesity, being overweight,” said Dr. Alanna Levine of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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The Academy said energy drinks are even more harmful and have no place in a kid’s diet.
“Energy drinks contain stimulants like caffeine and some of the energy drinks contain so much of them, it’s the equivalent of drinking up to 14 cans of caffeinated soda,” said Dr. Levine.
Caffeine can affect the development of a child’s nervous system and cardiovascular system. Pediatricians said the best way to keep young people hydrated is just plain water before, during and after practice.
Doctors said a sports drink may be okay if a child participates in repeated, heavy duty aerobic exercise.
“I feel like the kids can use the calories after they do their sports and they need the drink and it helps with their electrolytes and the calories aren’t going to make a difference. they burn up so many calories,” Waldron said.
Emma and Connor are only allowed one sports drink a day. The rest of the time, they’re happy to drink water.
To summarize: energy drinks – never, water – almost always. Sports drinks only if the child has been sweating excessively during prolonged exercise.
The only downside to sports drinks is calories so they should be avoided if the child has a weight problem.
The Academy also warns that sodas containing caffeine should also be avoided.
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