Friday, October 1, 2010

Sports Beverages

"Sports" beverages (such as Gatorade) are often marketed as being a necessary part of sports and physical activity.  Having sports heroes hawking the stuff just adds to its appeal for young children and teenagers.  I have seen this first-hand at my son's baseball games.  Kids bring and drink LARGE bottles of these sports drinks, even though they are mostly standing around in a baseball game, and only occasionally running or putting forth much physical effort.  So what should kids be drinking?  The general rule is: for moderate physical activity less than one hour in length, that is not taking place in extreme weather conditions, WATER is the best beverage.  Of course, this does not apply to very vigorous exercise lasting longer than one hour (such as running a marathon).

We know that many children consume too many sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soda) daily leading to many empty calories coming from beverages.  However,  people do not realize that sports beverages fall into this same category.  These drinks have come to been associated with a healthy lifestyle despite the fact that they are essentially sugar water.

Remember, the current recommendation on the CACFP is that juice should be limited to only two servings per week.  I would like to add that sports drinks should be reserved for extreme exercise and water should be the beverage of choice in most instances.  And if your kids need a healthy snack after their game, reach for whole fruit such as oranges instead of the juice!

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