I receive a few emails every week asking about my opinion on Sport/Energy drinks for kids. So to clear the air here is what I have put together for everyone’s benefit.
We can’t really equate adult’s dietary requirements with nutrition for kids. The physiology of a growing child varies to a certain degree from that of a fully grown up young adult. Kids belonging to different age groups from adolescent to teenagers have particular nutritional requirement. What with obesity sweeping across North American kids, we have to sit up and do something about it sooner than later. If you can’t throw out all the junk food like burgers, hotdogs fries and colas, then you can at least start cutting back on them slowly at first, until no junk is left at the dinner table for your active sports loving kids.
The sports drink and energy drink manufacturing industry has started targeting kids as young as four years old, in their quest to expand their market. However, you as a parent must consider all aspects and gather as much information about such drinks available in the market. Most of these drinks contain too many carbohydrates, caffeine and electrolytes and sometimes multivitamins and unspecified herbs….thats just a scary combination if you ask me.
They are advertised to provide extra boost of energy and strength but are heavily laced with sugar, which is detrimental to kid’s health, affecting weight and also puts them on a fast track to the dentist’s chair for sure. The essential content of all these drinks is a heavy dose of sweeteners for hydration and endurance, but is not necessary for kids, as they can be kept properly hydrated with plain water, natural fruit juices and proper healthy food.
Another culprit with too much sugar is the soda, which should be avoided at all cost, if the kid is not to go overweight and suffer from other obesity related diseases. Energy drinks like Gatorade and other leading brands contain as much as three times the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee. Caffeine as such is not suitable for children and causes disorientation, attention deficit, aggression, irritability and lack of concentration. As soon as the effect of caffeine wears off, the aftermath is more unpleasant for kids and they may get addicted to caffeine in the long run.
Some vitamin waters are also being sold as a supplement and they may not be beneficial to children for the fact that too much vitamin beyond recommended daily allowance will do more harm than good. Not enough studies have been done on the effects of caffeine and multivitamins fortified with herbs and minerals on children to declare them safe and beneficial to kids.
Psychologically too the kids on such sports drinks may consider their performance to be the result of such drinks and may not practice more or work harder to improve their game, which is what it really takes to excel in sports and activities. Instead of sports drinks, try some home recipes and throw together some homemade healthy beverages as proper nutrition for kids.
Learn a few simple smoothie recipes and try to combine as many fruits and vegetables as you can into the blend to have a balanced nutritional drink to meet all the requirement of a growing child. Combine fruits like bananas, blueberries, strawberries, apples, oranges and whip up a drink the kids will find hard to refuse. Here is a bonus to it…let them create their own with some help from you and they will more likely drink them and if your kids are anything like mine…they’ll be asking all the time to make them.
Cut down on sodas and sugar laced drinks, ice creams and sundaes, doughnuts and pastries, burgers and pizzas, to watch your kid glow with health. Knowledge of proper nutrition for kids is not to be taken lightly by parents, if the next generation is to be brought up healthy, wealthy and wise.
Want the facts?