Healthy eating and physical activity solutions for kids

Drink Think Water

When we have kids think about the things they regularly drink, it is pretty common for sports drinks to make the list. Yet for sports drinks (and even more so, energy drinks), we really need to think twice. Adults and kids mistakenly think that sports drinks are a healthier choice than soda. The fact is that sports drinks are another source of added sugar. The amount of added sugar varies by brand, but a 20 oz. bottle of some popular choices can add almost nine teaspoons of sugar.

A 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics report states that kids rarely need sports drinks. There may be some benefit during intense competition (usually lasting 60 minutes or more); however, sports drinks are not necessary for the casual athlete and should not be consumed on a regular basis.

Water accessibility is important for all kids and needs to keep up with demand. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics article “Water: How Much Do Kids Need?” explains that the appropriate amount depends on factors such as age, weight and gender. The article recommends that as a rule of thumb, to get enough water, a child or teen should drink at least six to eight cups per day and eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables every day. (Fruits and vegetables, with their high water content, add to the total day’s intake.) During games and competitive events, drinks should be available at all times and regular water breaks should be scheduled about every 15 or 20 minutes. The amount of water needed can vary depending on the child's age, weight, intensity of the activity and weather conditions.

Energy drinks are in another category. Because of the large amount of caffeine, energy drinks pose a real health risk for kids and teens. The American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that kids should not consume energy drinks.

Make water easily accessible to kids. If taste is a barrier to making water the first choice, add a slice of lemon or one of the other sliced fruits suggested in this week’s Healthy Kids Challenge WOWS Newsletter.