Under the guise of “hydration”, beverage marketers have fooled many parents into believing that sports drinks are an essential part of children’s physical activity. It’s an interesting phenomenon, considering these drinks didn’t even become popular until the last decade or so.
Let’s look at the latest example: Body Armour Sports Drink
I’m particularly disturbed by this one because the company is going out of its way to target kids and parents. Give the company a quick Google search, and you’ll see dozens of parent bloggers who were sent free samples from Body Armor (possibly in addition to other compensation), and asked to give their “honest” opinion. I only found one blogger who actually did. And it wasn’t pretty.
The packaging and advertisements for Body Armor Sports Drinks boast about electrolytes, antioxidants, coconut water, natural flavors, and vitamins. Do any of those ingredients really matter? Let’s look at the Nutrition Facts:
Like many other sports drinks, the nutrition information is only listed per half bottle. If you do the math, however, one bottle of Body Armor contains a whopping 36 grams of sugar. All of those healthy sounding ingredients are meaningless when you add 9 teaspoons of sugar! The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 3 teaspoons of added sugar per day for a child age 4-8, or 5-8 teaspoons for pre-teens. Either way, one bottle of Body Armor exceeds what the AHA believes a child should have in an entire day.
What sport drink companies like Body Armor are essentially telling us (and parents are buying into it without much dispute) is that if your child participates in sports, they should be swallowing 9 packets of sugar with every game or practice. Could you imagine if I gave that kind of advice as a dietitian?
If you are worried about your children’s hydration while playing sports, plenty of water and a piece of fruit is all they need.