A new study reportedly claims that young people mistakenly view sugar-sweetened sports beverages as healthy alternatives to soft drinks. Nalini Ranjit, et al., “Dietary and Activity Correlates of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Adolescents,” Pediatrics, September 27, 2010.  

University of Texas School of Public Health researchers surveyed 15,283 middle- and high-school students to determine the correlation between consumption of sugarsweetened beverages and flavored and sports beverages (FSBs) to diet and physical activity.  

According to the study, researchers discovered that more than 60 percent of boys and more than 50 percent of girls drank at least one soda, sports drink or other sweetened beverage like fruit punch each day, which could lead to yearly weight gain. Students active in sports and other physical activities consumed more sports drinks while those who led more sedentary lifestyles drank more soda. “The most likely explanation for these findings is that FSBs have been successfully marketed as beverages consistent with a healthy lifestyle, to set them apart from sodas,” the study said. “Often, these beverages contain a minimal percentage of fruit juice or, more commonly, contain artificial fruit flavors, which conveys the impression that the drink is more healthful than it actually is.”  

Researchers also found that “vegetable and fruit consumption increased with the level of FSB consumption but decreased with the level of soda consumption.” It concluded that “assessment and obesity-prevention efforts that target sugar-sweetened beverages need to distinguish between FSBs and sodas.”