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How Healthy are sports drinks (gatorade) for children? My brother's kids drink only gatorade and only an occasional glass of chocolate milk. Their ages are 4,6,&8. They aren't particularly active and play inside most of the time. I bring our own drinks when visiting because there literally is only gatorade at their house. Two of his boys are close to being obese. I feel I need to say something but am afraid of interfering.
    
Thanks for your question. There is no debating that sports drinks are a booming business, thanks to the power of advertising. They certainly are popular, but are they necessary for children?

First of all, what is in a sports drink? They basically are expensive diluted soft drinks. They do contain significant carbohydrates (about 60 calories per cup), but little sodium or potassium, and generally have little other nutritional value.

Sports drinks do have a place, however, but only when participating in a high-intensity endurance event that lasts longer than 90 minutes, like a marathon or triathlon. For most children, therefore, a sports drink is really not necessary, especially as a fluid replacement at home.

There are three major drawbacks to the continual use of sports drinks like you describe in your question. The first is obesity since these drinks are rich in carbohydrates (that is why they taste so good). The second is drinking too many sports drinks can erode the teeth due to the acidity - not the sugar. And third, sports drinks are more expensive than the best fluid replacement of them all - water.

Yes, plain cool water is the fluid of choice when exercise does not last longer than 60 to 90 minutes. And that includes most situations, even a tough practice session, a hard-fought football game, or a track meet. You don't need an energy source in the fluid you drink to rehydrate. Sports drinks should be reserved for those individuals who exercise continuously for more than 90 minutes or have heavy sweat losses."

 

As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your child’s pediatrician. Please read our full disclaimer.

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