School children drinking ‘high levels’ of sports drinks

sports drinksAlmost 90% of school children consume sports drinks, a new study published in the British Dental Journal has shown.

The research found almost 90% of 12 to 14-year-olds consume high-sugar acidic drinks, despite understanding the negative effects on their oral health.

Researchers believe children are drawn to the drinks due to their branding, believing the drinks are for everybody, despite being intended for adults taking part in sports.

‘Sports drinks offer no health benefits to children, and are helping fuel an epidemic of tooth decay,’ BDA chair, Mick Armstrong, said.

‘It’s no accident that we are seeing such high levels of consumption among children.

‘Cynical marketing is driving demand, and it is time Government drew a line.’

Sugar tax

The BDA is calling on the Government to bring sports drinks under the orbit of the soft drinks industry levy.

It claims if sports drinks are sold alongside regular soft drinks they should be covered by the sugar levy and restrictions placed on marketing and display.

The study also found that:

  • 89% of school children consume sports drinks
  • 73% of children believe water is suitable to be consumed when exercising
  • 68% of children consume them regularly (one-seven times per week)
  • 45.9% of those children surveyed believe sports drinks are for everyone, irrespective of age or activity level
  • 65% believe sports drinks could lead to tooth decay.

‘Big business is getting away with targeting children with products designed for athletes,’ Mick continued.

‘High in both sugars and acids, these are not everyday drinks.

‘And if they are going to be displayed alongside colas, they should be subject to the same taxes.

‘Water remains the drink of choice when undertaking moderate exercise, and is the safest option for both oral and general health.’

The study – Knowledge of and attitudes to sports drinks of adolescents living in South Wales UK – is published in the British Dental Journal.

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