As parents, we all want the best for our kids. That said, it’s easy to get caught up in product hype when living in a consumer culture, and kids are particularly susceptible to marketing, especially when products are brightly colored and ads contain a lot of action and/or famous athletes.
You have the power to make purchasing decisions for your household, but when kids ask for something, you may not think there’s any harm in giving it to them. For example, you might not see any problem with giving active kids sports drinks.
After all, they replenish electrolytes that are spent during exercise, and many feature less sugar per serving than sodas. Right? This may be true, but there are actually several reasons why sports drinks are not the best choice, and why they’re bad for teeth. Here are a few things concerned parents should know.
Say a serving of Gatorade is 12 ounces. There are only about 21 grams of sugar in this amount of product, which isn’t much compared to 12-oz. can of Coke, which comes in at a whopping 39 grams.
That said, it’s not uncommon for kids to guzzle much more than 12 ounces of Gatorade, considering bottles most commonly come in 20 or 32 ounces (featuring 35 and 56 grams of sugar, respectively). In this case, kids aren’t really getting less sugar, and they’ll still suffer the same harmful effects to teeth.
Another problem with allowing kids to have sports drinks is that they are packed with empty calories, just like soda. Even if they do offer electrolytes lost during exercise, the detriments from sugar and calories far outweigh any potential benefits.
Excessive caloric intake is a major culprit in childhood obesity, and sugary drinks that do little to fill kids or provide needed nutrition are a big contributor. This is especially problematic if kids aren’t active.
An argument could be made for allowing children that are extremely active to have sports drinks once in a while, but the truth is that parents are better off banning them from the diet entirely. Water is always a better choice for hydration, and electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium can be reintroduced to the body through healthy and nutritious meals and snacks that are far more appropriate for kids.
Remember, there is a link between diabetes and gum disease, and according to findings from the National Institute of Health, children that suffer from obesity are at higher risk of developing diabetes. In other words, it’s best to deny access to sports drinks and choose healthier options for kids.