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Sports Drinks Like Gatorade
May Soon Be Labeled As Junk Food

Public health advocates want the standards to ban the sale of Gatorade and Powerade, which typically contain as much as two-thirds the sugar of sodas and more sodium, as well as sweetened waters such as VitaminWater and SoBe Life Water. Excessive sodium intake by young people could fuel a surge in high blood pressure, which until recently was considered a health threat only in later life, they said.

The trade group representing Coca-Cola, Pepsi and other bottlers, whose annual sales of sports drinks reached $7.5 billion last year, counters that sports drinks and sweetened waters are lower in calories, "appropriate" for high school students and "essential" to young athletes. In 2006, sports drinks were the third fastest growing beverage category after energy drinks, such as Red Bull, and bottled water, according to the trade journal Beverage Digest.

Nutrition experts contend that sports drinks are not as healthful as manufacturers claim. A 12-ounce bottle of Gatorade Rain contains 75 calories, 21 grams of sugar and 165 milligrams of sodium, compared with 150 calories, 40.5 grams of sugar and 52 milligrams of sodium in a can of Coke.

In April, the Institute of Medicine released a report urging that sports drinks be made available in schools only to student-athletes participating in more than one hour of vigorous activity. And a report from the University of California at Berkeley's Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight and Health warned that students who drink one 20-ounce sports drink every day for a year may gain about 13 pounds.

Nutritionists also warn of excessive salt consumption among more sedentary students. A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains approximately 275 milligrams of sodium, almost 12 percent of the recommended daily allowance for people ages 14 to 18. Already, more than 75 percent of children consume more than the recommended 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day, according to the Institute of Medicine.


Reference Source 122
September 28, 2007

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