Twenty-seven percent of UK teenagers say they consume sports drinks while watching TV, at the movies or playing computer games, even though these drinks designed for strenuous exercise, study says

July 11, 2014 () – More than a quarter of teenagers consume sports drinks designed for strenuous exercise while watching TV and playing computer games, according to a new study.

The National Hydration Council (NHC) found that a similar number of young people thought the drinks were healthy enough to be consumed at any time - even though they have large amounts of sugar and salt.

They are designed for use during intense exercise lasting more than an hour.

A survey of 1,000 13 to 17-year-olds found 27 per cent of teenagers drank sports drinks at the cinema, while watching TV or gaming; 25 per cent per cent thought they were healthy enough to be drunk anytime; and just 16 per cent of teenagers used sports drinks for the reason they were designed.

Nearly half said they often feel thirsty and 40 per cent said they were not sure what their body needs to keep hydrated. Professor Paul Gately, an expert on exercise and obesity at Leeds Metropolitan University and an NHC advisor, said: "Sports drinks have a clear purpose for athletes participating in high-intensity exercise - otherwise people are just consuming water, salt and on average 16 grams of sugar in each 500ml bottle.

"Teenagers often perceive these drinks to be more healthy than other soft drinks, when they really only have a purpose to help those who are being vigorously active.

"Knowing which drinks to choose for the amount of physical or recreational exercise you do is important. Drinking water will keep most people well hydrated."

Kinvara Carey, NHC general manager, said the survey's findings showed there was "still some confusion about the role of sports drinks". "The recently updated school food standards establish water as the first choice to hydrate with," she added.

Women should drink 1.4l of fluid and men should have 2l every day, says the NHC. Take "plenty" of water, have milk "regularly" and have "small amounts" of soft drinks containing sugar.

(c) 2014 Independent News and Media Limited

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