Public health advocates are pushing for a ban on the sale of sports drinks and flavored waters in schools, warning that drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade contain as much as two-thirds the sugar of sodas, and more than three times the sodium.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has introduced a bill that would let the government decide, and set nutritional standards for all foods and drinks sold in schools. The issue of whether sports drinks and vitamin waters should be considered “healthy alternatives,” or “junk food,” has now brought this bill to the forefront in congress.
The trade group representing bottlers like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are vehemently countering the bill, stating sports drinks are lower in calories, “appropriate” for high school students, and “essential” to young athletes.
But a report from the University of California at Berkeley warns that students who drink one 20-ounce sports drink every day for a year may gain about 13 pounds. This is no surprise to some nutritionists, who note that when you look at the ingredients, it’s water, high-fructose corn syrup, and salt.
According to Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “For years we’ve been programmed to believe that sports drinks are healthy and you need to replenish those electrolytes after you go out and walk your dog. They don’t want any official sanctioning of the idea that sports drinks are associated with obesity.
Washington Post September 26, 2007
Science Daily September 26, 2007