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No-Cal, Low-Cal Sports Drinks Better For Kids

Sports drinks quench our thirst, but how healthy are they? There are low-calorie and even no-calorie versions, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're good for kids.

A sports drink with no calories, Powerade Zero, just hit store shelves. Its goal is to dribble some business away from G2, the low-cal Gatorade.

"All the boys play soccer, I thought this would be something great for either before or after,” says mother Veronica Cooper. “No sugar, that's a big, huge thing."

So we decided to put Powerade Zero to the test with kids and their moms.

"The Powerade is sweeter than the G2," says 8-year-old Zachary Schumann.

"The taste is good," says Lacey McDowell.

"It's sweet,” say Robbie and Sophia. “It's better than pop."

Their moms like the nutrition label. G2 has 25 calories, 110 milligrams of sodium and seven grams of sugar, compared to Powerade Zero's no calories, 55 milligrams of sodium and no sugar.

"I think we all need to be as health-conscious as possible, starting early in life," says Cooper.

Is this really a healthy option? Pediatrician Dr. David Kaufman at Children Physicians Hospital says that depends. "In today's environment where we're seeing really an epidemic of childhood obesity, any empty caloric source is just not a good idea, so the zero calorie ones aren't a bad thing to give."

The electrolytes may help active kids or teens when alternated with water. "I just drink them basically when I play sports, just to keep me hydrated," says Marian High School sophomore Kara Mlnarik.

Moms like Terri Welch give sports drinks for a different reason. "Only when they're sick."

"I would not recommend a zero calorie product for a child who's sick with vomiting and diarrhea," says Dr. Kaufman. That's when Dr. Kaufman says children need the sugar. In that case, he recommends Pedialyte or regular sports drinks.

Dr. Kauffman says sports drinks are designed to be used during intense exercise lasting longer than an hour, but generally he says, drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated and healthy.


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