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.