(NaturalNews) Manufacturers of sports drinks appear to have successfully deceived children and their parents into believing that their products are healthy, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center and published in the journal Pediatrics.
"Sports drinks have been successfully marketed as beverages consistent with a healthy lifestyle, which has set them apart from sodas," said lead researcher Nalini Ranjit. "Children and parents associate these drinks with a healthy lifestyle despite their increased amount of sugar and lack of nutritional value."
The researchers surveyed more than 15,000 eighth and eleventh graders about their activity levels and dietary intake. They found that children who participated in more sports and vigorous physical activities drank significantly less soda than less active children, but higher levels of sports drinks. Children with higher sports drink consumption also ate more fruits and vegetables, while children with high soda consumption ate less.
"Adolescents who engage in an otherwise reasonably healthy lifestyle with lots of physical activity and a healthy diet still consume large amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages in the form of flavored and sports beverages," Ranjit said. "We believe that this is due to successful marketing that has led consumers to see these beverages as healthy."
Ranjit noted that sports drinks contain sugar levels just as high as that found in soda, and that drinking just one such beverage per day could cause a person to gain 10 pounds over the course of a year.
Adolescents and their parents should be educated that sports drinks are not a healthy alternative to soda, she said, and should reserve such beverages for "extreme exercise." The healthiest way to rehydrate in nearly all cases is still water.
"So-called sports drinks should be eliminated, since they are high in calories," writes J. Douglas Bremner in the book Before You Take that Pill.
"Soda, juice, and energy and sports drinks contain empty calories that will make you fat; they also contain caffeine, which is addictive and makes you consume even more of those useless calories. If you are thirsty, drink water."