Sports Drinks NOT a Healthy Alternative to Soda

I was recently at the grocery store with my children when my 8-year-old son began begging me to buy a 12-pack of gatorade bottles for his school lunches. I chuckled and told him, “Absolutely, not!” Afterall, sports drinks are for just that, consumption during rigorous athletic activity. But he insisted that all of his friends take Gatorade, or similar drinks, in their lunches, and pouted the rest of the trip at how “unfair” i was being. The exchange came to mind when I ran across an article from a UK health charity, the Oral Health Foundation, detailing the dangers of sports drinks to the oral health of today’s youth.

A recent study out of Cardiff University School of Dentistry found that about 68% of 12-14 year olds in the UK are regularly consuming high sugar, sports drinks socially and unnecessarily.  As a result, organizations like the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) UK and the Oral Health Foundation are reinforcing their positions that there is a serious lack of awareness in regards to the detrimental effects that some foods and drinks have on our oral health.

Dr. Ben Atkins, Trustee of the Oral Health Foundation, stated, “This research is incredibly worrying, to have such a large amount of children choosing these drinks when they have no nutritional benefit whatsoever is a health ticking time bomb. The public are far too unaware of the dangers of sports drinks to our oral health and this all stems from a lack of knowledge on what is ‘healthy’ and what isn’t.”

The consumption of sports drinks has become a social norm among children, even though they are designed for sporting professionals to aid performance. Recent research has even suggested that their use by professionals has contributed to high levels of tooth decay. But because they are marketed to the masses and used during healthy, physical activity, majority of people view them as a healthy alternative to sugary drinks, like soda.  The sugars found in sports drinks and sodas alike react with bacteria in plaque, forming the enamel destroying acids that are responsible for forming cavities and decay. The Oral Health Foundation, and others, are calling on the public to be aware of hidden sugars and to choose water or milk when thirsty.

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