A Survey of Sports Drinks Consumption Amongst Adolescents
A study entitled ‘A survey of sports drinks consumption amongst adolescents’, published in the British Dental Journal (2016) found that a high percentage of 12-14 year olds regularly consume sweet sugary sports and energy drinks.
These drinks increase their risk of obesity and tooth erosion.
“Unfortunately there is wide appeal to consume sports drinks and/or energy drinks in a social environment by young people.” said Dr Jeff Kestenberg, the principal dentist at Coburg Dental Group.
According to the survey conducted by the University of Cardiff, children and adolescents are attracted to sports drinks because of their sweet taste, low price and availability. Ninety per cent claimed that taste was a factor. Only 18 per cent claimed to drink them because of the perceived performance-enhancing effect.
Surprisingly, few people are aware that sports drinks are not intended for consumption by children.
In supermarkets, sports drinks are often sold alongside other soft drinks and sweet beverages and like these other drinks they have a very high sugar content and acidity. This creates a perfect environment for the bacteria in plaque to establish an area of tooth decay.
“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,” Dr Kestenberg said.
“We are aware of the popularity of sports drinks with teenagers when giving health education or advice to our patients or when we visit schools.” he added.
Experts including the Australian Dental Association are calling for a sugar tax and tighter regulation around the price, labelling and marketing of sports drinks especially within school tuck-shops and leisure environments.
By regulating the drinks, we can hope to safeguard general and dental health.
The study showed that the proportion of children in this study who consume high carbohydrate drinks, which are designed for sport and not for social or everyday use ,is of concern.
However, the dental issues associated with these sugary drinks are not just confined to the younger generation.
“Sports drinks are also a major causative factor with tooth decay and enamel erosion in athletes and should only be used following the advice of dental and healthcare teams dedicated to looking after athletes. There are ways in which these drinks can be used safely.” said Dr Kestenberg.