Children found to be unaware of the health risks posed by sports drinks

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A study published in the British Dental Journal has found that a rising number of 12-14 year olds are regularly drinking sports drinks. These drinks pose an increased risk of obesity and tooth decay, concluded Cardiff University School of Denistry.

The study observed 160 children across four different schools in South Wales. It found that children were attracted to the sweet taste and low price of sports drinks, with not only children but parents being unaware of the health risks they pose.

90% of the children claimed that the sweet taste of these drinks was a factor, whilst only 18% drank them for their supposed performance enhancing effect. Price was also one of the top three reasons for their purchase.

Senior lecturer in dental public health at Cardiff University, Maria Morgan said, “The purpose of sports drinks are being misunderstood and this study clearly shows evidence of high school age children being attracted to these high sugar and low pH level drinks, leading to an increased risk of dental cavities, enamel erosion and obesity.”

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) is calling for stricter regulation around the price, availability and marketing of sports drinks to children. They are particularly concerned with the surrounding areas near schools, hoping to safeguard general and dental health.

Dr Paul D Jackson, President of the FSEM UK said, “The proportion of children in this study who consume high carbohydrate drinks, which are designed for sport, in a recreational non-sporting context is of concern . . . Water or milk is sufficient enough to hydrate active children, high sugar sports drinks are unnecessary for children and most adults.”

Russ Ladwa, chair of the British Dental Association’s Health and Science Committee also added, “They are laden with acids and sugars, and could be behind the decay problems we’re now seeing among top footballers.  Sports drinks are rarely a healthy choice, and marketing them to the general population, and young people in particular, is grossly irresponsible.”

Source: British Dental Journal

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