A high proportion of 12-14 year olds are regularly consuming sports drinks socially, increasing their risk of tooth erosion, concludes a Cardiff University School of Dentistry survey.
The survey looked at 160 children and concluded that children are attracted to sports drinks because of their sweet taste, low price, and availability, with most parents and children not aware that sports drinks are not intended for consumption by children.
Half of the children surveyed claimed to drink sports drinks socially and most (80%) purchased them in local shops. The majority (90%) also claimed that taste was a factor and only 18% claimed to drink them because of the perceived performance enhancing effect. Price was one of the top three recorded reasons for purchase and, of particular concern, 26% of children also cited leisure centres as purchase sources.
Maria Morgan, senior lecturer in dental public health at Cardiff University, said: “The purpose of sports drinks is being misunderstood and this study clearly shows evidence of high school age children being attracted to these high sugar and low pH level drinks, leading to an increased risk of dental cavities, enamel erosion and obesity.
“Dental health professionals should be aware of the popularity of sports drinks with children when giving health education or advice, or designing health promotion initiatives.”
The survey also concluded that there is particular confusion over the definition of a sports versus an energy drink. However, from a dental and wider health perspective, these two drink types have similar detrimental effects due to their high sugar content and low pH.