Consumption of Sports Drinks by Children and Adolescents

Children’s and adolescents’ consumption of sports drinks is increasing. In the middle of a national obesity epidemic, many sports drinks sold in the United States contain high amounts of sugar, adding more calories to youths’ diets.

Key Findings:

  • Sports drink consumption is increasing. In 2008, sports drinks sales were $7.5 billion, increasing in volume by 17 percent between 2004 and 2008.
  • Sports drink manufacturers are targeting children and adolescents. In 2010, Gatorade television ads were ranked among the top five most-advertised products seen by children and adolescents.
  • The benefits of sports drinks are appropriate only for athletes or individuals engaging in prolonged vigorous physical activity, and/or those activities performed in high temperatures and humidity.
  • The average American child or adolescent does not engage in enough physical activity to warrant consumption of sports drinks. For most children and adolescents, consuming water before, during, and after physical activity provides the necessary hydration.

This issue brief highlights the evidence about children’s and adolescents’ consumption of sports drinks and the related health implications. Parents, teachers, coaches, and children and adolescents need to know that sports drinks are not recommended for the vast majority of youths engaged in normal physical activity. Government agencies also need to monitor the effects of marketing sports drinks to children.