Are Sport and Energy Drinks Safe For Children?
If you have a child playing sports or doing outdoor activities where they get hot and sweaty, it is not uncommon to arm them with a sport drink to keep them hydrated. The heavily marketed sport and energy drinks are very popular with children and grown-ups and many well-intentioned parents are using them at inappropriate times.
Defining Sport and Energy Drinks
The biggest difference between sport and energy drinks is that sport drinks usually contain electrolytes and sometimes carbohydrates to replace what is lost during exercise. These drinks also sometimes contain a lot of sugar, caffeine and amino acids among other ingredients, which are not appropriate for children. Energy drinks often contain very strong stimulants with some containing the same amount of caffeine that can be found in approximately 15 cans of soda! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the consumption of caffeine by children.
Both sport and energy drinks also contain a substantial amount of sugar, which has been linked to obesity.
Are Sport and Energy Drinks OK?
At the right times, sport drinks can be beneficial but energy drinks should not be consumed by children under any circumstances. If your child has 60 minutes or more of vigorous activity, sport drinks can be used, but choose wisely. Select sport drinks that do not contain ingredients like Guarana (caffeine) or Taurine (amino acid), both of which are unnecessary for children.
What is OK for My Child to Drink?
The best way to stay hydrated is water. Give the child an orange or clementine with the water and you have a perfect balance of good, natural sugar, vitamins and fluid to replenish their thirsty bodies. Another alternative for a post-exercise replenishment is milk. Even chocolate milk is ok. Milk contains potassium, protein and other vitamins and minerals that are restorative to the body.
Is Juice OK?
Juice, even brands containing 100% juice and no added sugar, should not be a beverage of choice for children. Once the juice is stripped from its’ fiber, it is basically liquid sugar, which is processed by the body the same way any sugar is, even though it is derived from natural ingredients. Yet moderation is important for anyone, so if juice is offered, it is recommended that it be diluted 1:1 or 1:2 with water.
Your child’s health is important to the team at Rainbow Pediatrics. If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric providers, call 910-486-5437. For more parenting tips, visit our blog here.