The surprising problem with sports drinks
Like many parents, you might think that sports drinks are significantly better for your child than sugary soft drinks. The fact is, however, that most sports drinks also have high sugar content and acids that can erode the enamel on your child’s teeth and potentially lead to cavities. A 32 ounce bottle of the leading sports drink contains 56 grams of sugar.
The electrolytes and carbohydrates in sports drinks do in fact help athletes refuel and rehydrate. According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, sports drinks might be better than water for children who engage in prolonged, vigorous physical activity for more than one hour, especially in hot conditions. However, if your child is not exercising vigorously for more than 60 minutes, he or she might not need a sports drink for enhanced performance.
Moreover, the same study concludes that the sugar in sports drinks may contribute to tooth decay in children, as well as to child obesity.
Instead of sports drinks, have your child drink water before, during and after sports and other strenuous activities. And be sure to talk to your pediatric dentist before giving sports drinks to your child. If you do decide to give your child sports drinks, make sure you:
• Choose sports drinks that are lower in sugar
• Reduce the frequency and contact time
• Instruct your child to swallow immediately and not to swish it around the mouth
• Neutralize the sugar in the sports drinks by having your child alternate sips of water with sips of the drink
• If your child wears a mouth guard, rinse it only in water and never using the sports drink