Here’s Why Watching Sports on TV May Push Your Kids Toward Unhealthy Drinks

A man is drinking an energy drink.
Aileen Perilla/ The Penny Hoarder

When your kid is burning up the Little League baseball field with home runs on a hot day, sports drinks or energy drinks may seem like a good way to keep them hydrated.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, think again.

The Skinny on Sports and Energy Drinks

Sports drinks may contain carbohydrates, minerals and other ingredients designed to replace electrolytes lost through sweating.

Energy drinks may contain caffeine, ginseng and performance-enhancing ingredients to keep up an athlete’s stamina.

But these types drinks can cause all kinds of issues for growing bodies, including dental erosion, sleep problems and obesity.

The Academy says water is “generally the appropriate first choice for hydration before, during, and after most exercise regimens.”

The organization steers parents away from sports drinks in general but acknowledges they may benefit kids who exercise vigorously for long periods of time.   

But pediatricians say “stimulant-containing energy drinks have no place in the diets of children or adolescents.”

It seems like the easy solution would be to just not allow your kids to have energy and sports drinks. But as any parent knows, when you try to steer your children away from popular products, you fight a regular battle against a pretty fierce nemesis.


Watch just about any professional sporting event and you’ll see plenty of sports and energy drink companies advertising their products.

A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics looked into which televised sporting events these companies advertise with most.

Of the events researchers studied, the National Football League has the most food and beverage sponsors, followed by the National Hockey League and Little League.

Researchers concluded that “sports sponsorships are commonly used to market unhealthy food and nonalcoholic beverages” and that “youth watched telecasts associated with these sports organizations over 412 million times.”

The next time your youngster begs for a sports or energy drink, keep in mind there’s a chance it’s because they saw ads for it during a game on TV.

If you’re not sure whether or not to avoid these types of drinks, consult your pediatrician for advice on what’s best for your child.

And remember, water is a great alternative, and a lot cheaper to boot.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She loves telling readers about affordable ways to stay healthy, so look her up on Twitter (@lisah) if you’ve got a tip to share.