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Harvard researchers found a small but significant increase in the weekly consumption of high-carbohydrate sports drinks among teens, especially Latino teens, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Researchers compared data from two national surveys in 2010 and 2015.
In 2015, more than 57% of the more than 22,000 high school students surveyed reported drinking at least one sports drink in the prior week. That’s up from 56% in 2010, according to the Tribune.
Latino and black youth drank more sports drinks than white youth, too.
This is bad news, especially after historic declines in children’s consumption of sugary drinks overall.
“[Sports] drinks shown in advertisements being consumed by impossibly fit athletes and named for fruits like mango, kiwi, and blackberry are aggressively marketed to teens,” according to the Tribune, but many are loaded with electrolytes and carbohydrates, flavors, and sweeteners.
“The packaging and ads make them look like a healthy alternative to sugary sodas, widely blamed for contributing to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and other ills.”
Latino Kids & Sugary Drinks
Latino kids at all ages consume more sugary drinks than the average child, according to a Salud America! research review. This extra consumption puts them at greater risk of unhealthy weight.
Fortunately, several strategies are emerging to limit kids’ sugary drink consumption.
- Removing sugary drink options from kid’s menus, like in Baltimore and Lafayette, Colo.
- Better regulation of sugary drink marketing. Instead, frame junk food marketing as a health equity issue.
- Sugary drink awareness campaigns, like ones in Texas, Minnesota, and California.
Water vs. Sports Drinks
Experts continue to urge water over sports drinks as the healthiest drink choice for children.
In fact, choosing water makes a big difference in the overall nutritional value of packed school lunches.
“There is no purpose to consuming all the carbohydrates in sports drinks unless you are competing in a high-intensity game, not at a high school soccer or softball practice,” Nyree Dardarian of Drexel University told the Tribune.
You can help promote water in schools with our Water Bottle Fountain Action Pack!