Sports Drinks May not be Healthy, but Kids Who Drink Them Usually Are

Although the health benefits of sports beverages are questionable, consumption of these drinks seems to coexist with healthy behaviors, says a new study.

Although the health benefits of noncarbonated flavored and sports beverages (FSBs) are questionable, consumption of FSBs seems to coexist with healthy behaviors, according to new research that looked at the dietary and activity correlates of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by children in middle and high school.

The alarming trends in obesity among children in the US have spurred intensive efforts to identify effective strategies for preventing weight gain among adolescents. One target behavior of interest for interventions is the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), which has increased dramatically in the past few decades, according to Nalini Ranjit, PhD, of University of Texas School of Public Health in Austin, TX, lead author of a study recently published in Pediatrics.

Because little information is available regarding the behavioral context of SSB consumption among adolescents, Ranjit and colleagues set out to determine the dietary and activity correlates of SSB consumption, and whether these behavioral correlates are similar across different categories of SSBs in this age-group. Using data from a cross-sectional survey of 15,283 children in middle and high schools in Texas, the researchers examined consumption of sodas and noncarbonated FSBs separately for their associations with the level of unhealthy food (fried foods, French fries, desserts) consumption, healthy food (vegetables, fruit, and milk) consumption, physical activity including usual vigorous physical activity and participation in organized physical activity, and sedentary activity, including hours spent watching television, using the computer, and playing video games.

They found that for both boys and girls, “consumption of soda and FSBs was systematically associated with a number of unhealthy dietary practices and with sedentary behaviors.” However, consumption of FSBs demonstrated “significant positive graded associations with several healthy dietary practices and level of physical activity, whereas soda consumption showed no such associations with healthy behaviors.”

Ranjit and colleagues concluded that drinking flavored and sports beverages coexists with healthy dietary and physical activity behaviors, which suggests a popular misperception of these drinks as being consistent with a healthy lifestyle. “Assessment and obesity-prevention efforts that target sugar-sweetened beverages need to distinguish between FSBs and sodas,” they said.

For more:

  • PediatricsDietary and Activity Correlates of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Adolescents
  • Pharmacy TimesPatient Counseling: Childhood and Adolescent Obesity-A Growing Epidemic
  • September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
  • First Lady Joins Forces with MLB to Strike Out Childhood Obesity