Most parents are aware of the dangers of sugary drinks and sweets and do what they can to limit their consumption. However teenagers are often buying cheap sports drinks which have a high sugar content to drink socially.

A survey by Cardiff University School of Dentistry, published in the British Dental Journal, showed a high proportion of 12-14 year olds are regularly consuming, high sugar, sports drinks unnecessarily.

The findings of the survey were:

  • 89% of school children are consuming sports drinks with 68% drinking them regularly (1-7 times per week)
  • Half claimed to drink sports drinks for social reasons
  • The high sugar content and low pH of sports drinks increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and the erosion of tooth enamel
  • Most sports drinks are purchased by children in local shops at value prices
  • Only 18% of the children surveyed drink them for the perceived performance enhancing effect.
  • 90% of the children claimed the taste was the biggest reason they buy these sweet drinks.

The research highlights the fact that parents and children are not aware that sports drinks are not intended for consumption by children.
Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) UK recommends that water and milk is sufficient enough to hydrate children and adults before during and after exercise, there is no evidence of any benefit of sports drinks in non-elite athletes or children.

However, there is evidence that an increasing consumption of sugar sweetened drinks in the UK increases cardiometabolic risks and contributes to tooth decay.
The survey also addresses the fact that there is confusion over the definition of a sports versus an energy drink. However, from a dental and wider health perspective, these two drinks have similar detrimental effects due to their high sugar content and low pH, being a cause for tooth decay and erosion.