Are Sports Drinks Better Than Energy Drinks for Kids?

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Sports Drinks Often Misused

The report's authors emphasize that kids should never consume sports drinks with meals or just because they are thirsty. Nutritional guidelines recommend that children drink no more than one 8 ounce sugary drink a day, even if they're very active.

Many kids drink several of these beverages a day because they're readily available.

"We commissioned an independent evaluation of school food and beverages in a group of California middle and high schools making efforts to improve school nutrition," said Dr. George Flores of the California Endowment, a nonprofit organization set up to improve access to quality health care. "It found that when sodas were removed from vending machines, vendors mainly replaced them with sports drinks."

Sports drinks are also heavily marketed to kids. The American Beverage Association says sports drinks can "provide nutrients and quickly replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates lost during physical activity or exposure to high temperatures." Some drink manufacturers also say their drinks contain amino acids that help promote muscle recovery.

But the report's authors say there's no science to back up some of these claims.

"Heavily marketed effects of specific amino acids in sports and energy drinks have not been supported by appropriate clinical trials," they wrote.

Golden and other moms say they hope people will get the message that these drinks are just as unhealthy as candy and soda.

Said mom and author Erika Katz: "You wouldn't hand your kid a lollipop for energy, and you wouldn't give them a can of soda for energy, so why would you give them a sport or energy drink that has the same amount of sugar as candy or soda?"

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