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Sports Drinks and Dehydration

April 5, 2011
Plain English Version

Dehydration happens when you do not drink enough water. During exercise, your body loses fluid. You must replace it for your body to work well.
A recent study of athletes ages 9 to 16 showed they did not drink enough water. They practiced sports very intensely. At the end of several sessions, more than half the youngsters were “very or seriously” dehydrated.
When water is available, young athletes do not drink enough of it.
Are sports drinks the answer?
In a bicycling study, kids offered grape-flavored water drank 44.5 percent more than plain water. When they were offered a sports drink, they drank 91 percent more. A sports drink may include 6 percent carbohydrates and electrolytes.
Experts say only children involved in very intense sports should drink sports drinks. For most children, dehydration is not a problem. If a teen-age athlete is competing at a more intense level during the summer, sports drinks are appropriate. The salt in the drinks increases the body’s ability to hold on to fluid. Most kids like the taste.
Sports drinks include Gatorade, Powerade and the new Crayons sports drinks for kids.
Experts say, “These are not health foods. They are fancy sugar water. Kids having them with pizza is not a good idea.” Outside of fields or courts, sports drinks are not wise. Sports drinks may cause obesity and tooth decay.

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