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Study Finds Teens Think Sports Drinks Are Healthy
Date:9/27/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- There is a popular misconception that because sports drinks and other noncarbonated beverages are associated with physical activity they must be healthy, University of Texas researchers report.

In a study of more than 15,000 middle and high school students throughout Texas, researchers found that kids who drank sugar-sweetened beverages, including sports drinks, were more likely than kids who didn't to eat unhealthy foods and watch more TV than those who did not. However, students who drank sports beverages were more likely than soda drinkers to exercise and consume fruits, vegetables and milk -- suggesting they viewed sports drinks as healthy.

"Adolescents and their parents need to be educated that consumption of large amounts of flavored and sports beverages is not consistent with a healthy lifestyle," said lead researcher Nalini Ranjit, an assistant professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Austin.

"Adolescents who engage in an otherwise reasonably healthy lifestyle with lots of physical activity and a healthy diet still consume large amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages in the form of flavored and sports beverages," she added. "We believe that this is due to successful marketing that has led consumers to see these beverages as healthy."

The report is published in the Sept. 27 online edition of Pediatrics.

For the study, Ranjit's team collected data on 15,283 middle and high school students throughout Texas. Of these students, 22 percent of the boys and 17 percent of the girls were obese.

Although regular soda consumption has been linked to weight gain, the researchers found that 83 percent of boys and 78 percent of girls had consumed one or more sugar-sweetened beverages the previous day,
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