Why is it legal to put 47 grams of sugar into one serving of nutriment sports drink?

Sports beverages claim to restore glucose, fluids, and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium) lost during severe activity while also increasing endurance. Some products also include B vitamins, which are linked to enhanced energy (not to be confused with energy drinks, which are a different product entirely).

Sports drinks either include sugar (glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose) or do not contain sugar and are instead flavored with low-calorie sweeteners. Sports drinks include a specified quantity of sugar and electrolytes to enable rapid hydration and absorption.

Sports drinks account for roughly 26% of overall sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among teenagers, according to estimates. Sports drinks have less sugar than soda and energy drinks, but they still include simple sugars in them.

A 12-ounce cola drink, for example, includes around 39 grams of sugar, compared to 21 grams in a popular sports drink, according to nutritional analysis. Drinking too much of them, especially if you aren’t exercising vigorously, might raise your chance of being overweight or obese, as well as other health issues including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and gout. Dental caries is also a possibility.

While skipping the soda and opting for popular sports drinks may appear to be a healthier option, most sports drinks are only slightly less sugary and calorie-dense than soda. A 32-ounce sports drink includes between 56 and 76 grams of sugar, or 14 to 19 teaspoons, which is four to six times the daily amount suggested for children and teens.

“They have less sugar than soda, but it’s still a big quantity,” says Vanessa Curtis, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist and head of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital’s pediatric cardio-metabolic clinic. “Most sports beverages have around two-thirds the sugar content of soda.”

A non-diet Coke with the same quantity of sugar includes 104 to 124 grams of sugar or 26 to 31 teaspoons.

According to research published in May 2018 in the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number of teenagers opting for sugary sports drinks on a weekly basis is increasing, and much more so on a daily basis for youngsters who watch more than two hours of TV each day (AAP). Every week, about 60% of high school kids consume at least one sports drink.

The extra electrolytes in these sports drinks, according to Dr. Curtis, aren’t required for children.

“If kids are consuming a balanced diet, they don’t really need the extra electrolytes,” she explains. “The beverages are OK if they’re running a marathon, but what about a single baseball game or a dancing recital?” They aren’t required.”

“Electrolyte- and carbohydrate-containing soft beverages, typically flavored and sugar-sweetened, claimed to restore energy and fluids after vigorous activity,” according to the AAP report. The beverages are beneficial for top athletes who engage in continuous intense activity, but “prepubescent adolescents do not lose electrolytes at the same pace as adult athletes,” according to the authors.

They also add unneeded calories, which can lead to – or contribute to – obesity and diabetes, according to Curtis.

“We don’t want to give them more calories,” Curtis adds, “particularly since one out of every six kids in Iowa is fat.”

According to her, serving size also plays a deceiving function in sports drink intake.

“A serving size of a sports drink is 8 ounces if you read the package,” Curtis adds, “but the bottles most kids are drinking are 20- or 32-ounce bottles, which are three to four servings at once.”

She claims that the greatest option at the ballpark or soccer field is just water.

“For most activities, water should be the primary choice for rehydration,” she stated. “That’s all they require.”

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