Health & Fitness

Keep kids away from sports drinks


King Features Syndicate

Gatorade was invented by the University of Florida Gators’ medical team in 1965 -- it’s dehydrating to play sports in the tropics. But it wasn’t until 1991, when Michael Jordan signed on as its celebrity sponsor, that the sports drink became a go-to beverage for kids. The brand’s slogan, “Be like Mike,” encouraged way-too-young fans to gulp it down.

A survey done in Wales by the Cardiff School of Dentistry found that many 12- to 14-year-olds regularly consume sports drinks, and their parents are unaware that the added sugars, dyes, phosphates and acids stuffed into psychedelic-colored liquids can harm growing bodies. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated, “Routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks by children and adolescents should be avoided,” if they want to dodge dental and weight problems.

The top two brands contain 21 grams of sugar in 12 ounces! That’s almost half of the American Heart Association’s recommended daily intake of added sugar for boys (45 grams) and almost two-thirds of a girl’s (30 grams). And we think the AHA recommendations are double what the upper limits should be.

To keep your young athletes well-hydrated, supply them with water and fruit, a great source of natural sugars. If they’re playing varsity or serious recreational sports, and are working out vigorously for at least two hours, use electrolyte (salt, potassium, calcium, magnesium) replacements that are free of additives, added syrups and most sugars (there are a couple healthy sports drinks out there). With those upgrades to their hydration routine, they’ll play smarter than Mike!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit