Sports drinks have become ubiquitous beverage options for people of all ages over the last couple of decades. Originally designed for the elite athlete market, sports drinks, alongside of sodas, have become big business, according to Casey Siedenberg:
Powerade and Gatorade wouldn’t be in big business if the only people who consumed their products were those who actually needed them. When these companies expand their markets to include all children who play sports, parents who believe the hype that their kids need to replace electrolytes and adults who think they are making a healthy choice by skipping the soda in favor of a “recharging” sports drink, the companies are suddenly pole-vaulting into money.
The sports-drink market was recently estimated at a whopping $6.81 billion. Kids and adults want something to drink besides water, and they want it to fulfill the righteous promises of rehydration and replenishment. This is why companies such as Honest Tea and Greater Than have entered the market with healthier sports drinks that are lower in sugar and free of artificial food colorings, and why Dr Pepper recently bought 11.7 percent of BodyArmor for $20 million.
Siedenberg reviewed some important facts about sports drinks before doing a rather unscientific taste test:
•The American Academy of Pediatrics concludes that “routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks by children and adolescents should be avoided or restricted . . . Water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents.”
•Kids and teens rarely, if ever, lose enough electrolytes during their athletic endeavors to require extra replenishment. Sodium is the most common electrolyte lost in sweat, yet most Americans get more than enough sodium from their diets.
•Many sports drinks contain as much sugar and as many chemicals as soda.
•Some sports-drink bottles contain 2 or 2½ servings, so the grams of sugar listed on the nutrition facts panel may need to be multiplied.
•Kids do not lose vitamins when they sweat, so Vitaminwater and vitamin-enhanced drinks are unnecessary.
Even though they are sweet and may taste good, sports drinks are not “health drinks.” Allowing children to drink them, or eat other processed foods and beverages that are filled with sugar, salt, and artificial chemicals kind of defeats the purpose of trying to live up to the Olympics motto: “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Faster, Higher, Stronger).
More PediaBlog on sugar-sweetened beverages here.