At Four Season Dental, our pediatric dentist in Colorado Springs wants to ensure our younger patients enjoy quality oral health throughout their lifetimes. As parents already know, sugar plays a big role in impacting a child’s oral health due to increasing the risk of tooth decay and of developing cavities. While sugary snacks, sodas, and artificially sweetened fruit juice are all common culprits that contribute to increasing the amount of sugar a child consumes, another commonly consumed beverage also possess a significant risk – sports drinks.
A large number of 12 to 14 year olds are regularly consuming sports drinks socially, increasing their risk of obesity and tooth decay, finds a survey conducted by researchers at Cardiff University School of Dentistry.
The survey examined 160 kids in four schools located across South Wales and found that children enjoy consuming sports drinks due their sweet flavor, easy availability, and low price. However, many kids and parents alike don’t realize that sports drinks are actually not designed for kids to consume.
An Increase In Consumption
The survey, the results of which were published in the British Dental Journal, found that half of the children consumed sports drinks daily and most (80 percent) bought them at local stores. Nearly 90 percent also reported that taste was a major factor in their decision to buy the beverages and only 18 percent claimed to drink sports drinks because of the perceived performance enhancing benefits. The relatively low cost of sports drinks was one of the top three recorded reasons for purchasing and, most troubling, 26 percent of kids also reported purchasing the beverages at government funded leisure centers, which serve a similar role as public gyms or YMCA rec centers in the U.S.
The fact that sports drinks are widely and cheaply available at public youth centers has raised a high level of concern with U.K. health officials. With the purpose for sports drinks being misunderstood – most are designed to help rehydrate the body with salts, sugars, and minerals normally depleted after working out; not for routine consumption – and the survey showing clear evidence of adolescents being attracted to these types of high sugar low pH level beverages, many kids will now face an increased risk of dental decay, cavities, and obesity.
The results of this study have led researchers to call for an increase in awareness about the dangers sports drinks represent to kids’ oral health, and how the misuse of these types of beverages could serve as a health risk.
The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine has called for tighter regulation around the availability, price, and marketing of sports drink to kids, especially near schools, to help safeguard dental and overall health.
The Confusion Surrounding Sports Drinks
Gatorade, Powerade, and other sports drinks are designed for athletes taking part in endurance and intense sporting activities. They have also been linked in previous research to an increased rate of tooth decay in athletes.
The level of rehydration provided by sports drinks is unnecessary for kids. Overly active children can easily be rehydrated by drinking water or milk, making the use of sugary sports beverages an unnecessary risk.
What many parents and consumers in general don’t know is that the average sports drink contains nearly as much sugar as a bottle of regular soda. The recommended daily amount of sugar for teens is between 20 to 32 grams a day. One bottle of Gatorade contains roughly 34 grams of sugar, and one bottle of regular cola contains 52 grams of sugar. This clearly illustrates the dangers of excessive sugar consumption in teens when either sports drinks or sodas are consumed in high enough volumes.
Your pediatric dentist in Colorado Springs at Four Seasons Dental hope the results of this study is informative to parents when they make decisions about the types of beverages their kids should enjoy.