Does your child like sports drinks? He or she is not alone. Recent surveys have shown that around 40% of adolescents consume them at least once a week. However, reports looking at the consumption of sports drinks by children and adolescents do NOT recommend sport drinks for children and teens engaged in normal levels of physical activity. Only those participating in vigorous physical activity for more than an hour should use sports drinks, and even then in limited quantities. Sports drinks contain calories and have been linked with adolescent obesity. In addition, the acidity of most sports drinks can cause dental problems.
Encourage your child to drink several glasses of water each day before, during, and after physical activity. And tell your child to drink more water if his or her urine is really yellow. Avoid sports drinks during normal activity; water is the only thing your child needs to stay hydrated. For exercise less than one hour, your child should drink 5–10 ounces of water every 15–20 minutes. However, for high-intensity and exercise longer than one hour, drink 3–8 ounces of a sports drink every 15–20 minutes.
Don’t confuse sports drinks with energy drinks, which should be avoided. To learn more, read OPSS’s “Energy drinks and teens.” You also might like to read “Fueling your adolescent athlete” to learn more about appropriate nutrition and hydration for your child.