Sports Drinks, like Powerade & Gatorade, have become quite popular with the youth of America as a recreational drink for about the last 15 years. It is easy on one level to see why that it is, but on another level not so much. Today we are going to discuss Americans youth’s addiction to sports drinks.
Youth’s Addiction to Sports Drinks
As a public high school teacher, I see day-in, day-out the shenanigans and tomfoolery of the today’s adolescent youth. (Yes, I intentionally used foolish outdated terms.). What they dress, how they talk to one another, the addiction to their devices, their dating rituals, and certainly their classroom work ethic and comportment we, teachers, see it all. Indeed, we spend more time with your kids during the week than you do.
Listen to our Holistic Health News episode on Juul Epidemic Among the Youth.
I could certainly go very off-topic and talk about some of the worrisome things I see in the hallway on a daily basis. And I will for a second. Pot smoking, Juul vaping, couples canoodling in the corners of the school (hetero, homo, transgender), students gleefully cussing at each other using horrific language like the N-word and the C-word. (And trust me the C-word is not curriculum.).
But the point of this article is the dietary habits, in particular their beverages of choice. First let’s talk about some difference between my youth and this current pre-apocalyptic time that has led to the addiction to sports drinks we see today.
When I was a child Gatorade existed sure. Back in the 1980s, it was pushed by Michael Jordan most famously. (See this classic Jordan/Gatorade commercial from the 90s.) I remember as a youth seeing my brother drink it after his soccer games. But I never saw it at our house. And in this house, we had ever imaginable junk food. Trust me.
Due to my emotional eating and binge eating, we had to lock it all up in a cabinet, but I would commonly break into to it to engorge myself. (If you would like to learn more, listen to my Confessions of an Obese Child episode “The Binge Eater ” or read my memoirs of the same name located on the top right side of this article.)
My point is this. Marketing has changed quite a bit since the 80s vis-a-vis beverages for you. For example, coffee, energy drinks, and sports drinks were not targeted toward us. Coffee in the 80s, prior to the proliferation of Starbucks and other boutique corner coffee shops, was restricted to diners and convenience stores. And you could only enhance it was sugar, cream, and those horrific instant creamers. (See our article on 4 Frankenfood Completely Nutrient-Devoid Chemical concoctions You Should Never Consume.)
We won’t cover energy drinks since they largely didn’t exist at the time. But going back to coffee, only with the advent of Starbucks did coffee get marketed to teenagers. Prior to that, coffee was seen as an “old person” drink along with wine and Metamucil drinks.
Now thanks to 20 years of marketing and the invention of frappucinos and other super sweet concoctions, at least 1/3 of their sales comes from adolescents. And this makes sense from a business point of view. The younger you can hook them in, the better chance they will be a life-long customer. Just like the Juul, parents. (Beware of that nicotine-laden “Satan’s Pipe.” Statistically, 50% of kids today have tried it.)
Sports Drinks were the same thing. As a youth, the only people who really drank Gatorade were youth or adult athletes after working out. They ruminated “Maybe Michael Jordan is as good as he is because he drinks Gatorade. I want to be like Mike” The power of using celebrities for advertising, no doubt.
At this point, sports drinks were not being directly marketed to the youth as a RECREATIONAL drink. But the makers of these “diabetes-in-a-bottle” beverages saw an untapped market. Why reserve our drinks to only athletes; let’s market to all youth! And so they did. This paradigm shift has led to the addiction to sports drinks we see today.
Now you have seen that 20 years of marketing blooming perniciously in our high schools today. Kids commonly stroll down my middle socioeconomic high school drinking sports drinks as a leisurely beverage. And why wouldn’t they? They don’t know any better.
Read our article on the Crap Junk Food Most Commonly Eaten In High Schools.
Commonly in my medical classes when I child walks into class, I’ll ask them “Why are you drinking that Powerade?” They commonly state “I don’t know….it taste good.” Does it really? Today, most kids look at sports drinks as another alternative to sodas or the even more insidious energy drinks.
Please check out our expose on Energy Drinks: The Deaths, Debilitations, & Marketing Scams on Holistic Health News.
On one level, they are right. Sports drinks are no different than sodas. This is one of the reasons we have the addiction to sports drinks. If you look at the nutritional information of sports drinks, you can see why kids would indulge in these fluorescently-colorful concoctions. They are essentially sugar and food dyes with some electrolytes. Not just “sugar” but most are made from the even more insidious “corn syrup” or “high fructose corn syrup” which we have so deliberately covered on this site. (Check out 53 Code Names for Sugar, MSGs, and Transfats or Our Review of Non-Sugar Sweeteners.)
To add insult to injury, sports drink makers were adding an ingredient called BVO (Bromiated Vegetable Oil) to their drinks. BVO is the preservative chemical laced into Mountain Dew, Fanta, and other colorful drinks to give them that fluorescent appearance.
BVO is banned in the EU, but not here. It contains elements of bromine which when accumulated in the body may lead to kidney, liver, skin issues as well as cancer. A few years back Gatorade decided to remove it due to bad publicity. But don’t anoint them as a saint, for they knowingly put it in our sports drinks for decades!! And it is still in sports drinks!!
Check out this great article from Dr. Mercola, the titan of alternative medicine, exposing BVO.
So Where Do Our Kids Get Their Electrolytes?
So we can firmly say that sports drinks are horrific for your health. It’s full of suspect Class 2A carcinogens like food dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and Frankenstein-esque preservatives. In all honesty, aside from water, there is no true natural ingredient. It is garbage.
And long-term drinking of this product would increase a child’s chance of acquiring obesity, Type II diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, hyperactivity, and cancer. And thanks to clever marketing and poor nutritional education from parents and schools we have the addiction to sports drinks we have today.
For more info on how horrific food dyes are to our body, click HERE. Before putting your kids on ADHD drugs, please consider purging your house of all foods that have food dyes. It will be exceedingly hard but learn how to do that by clicking HERE. Or listen to our podcast episode on it by click HERE.
So the question comes up, “Where do we get our electrolytes?” This question makes sense but it is sad to think that many people think the only way to get our electrolytes is from ingesting a food dye-laden sugar drink. Yes, they do put in some electrolytes in the sports drinks, but look at all the other garbage they put in their practically nullify any benefits.
Electrolytes are needed to maintain proper electrical conduction of the nervous system. The nervous system enervates, or gives electricity, to the heart, digestive system, and muscles. When our electrolytes (e.g. potassium, calcium, magnesium, et al) are either too high or too low, we have systematic problems. So yes, electrolytes are very important.
But here’s the thing, we can get our electrolytes from our food. We can get it from putting a little salt in some water. Or drinking full-fat chocolate milk. We can maintain a proper homeostatic balance of electrolytes just be eating! So the whole raison d’être of sports drinks is superfluous. Try fruit-infused waters like the ones we posted HERE.
But do people know this? I don’t think it would matter much. As is the power with Big Advertising, if you expose the soon-to-be-customer with enough ads at a young age, you can inculcate into their head whatever you like. And it is hard to dislodge that “truth” with real truth.
So I could approach my students and speak the truth to them. But 90% of them will continue to drink the sugary concoctions because they like the taste, the look, and they are validated daily by commercials that this continued action should be…..well continued. This is why we have a quasi-addiction to sports drinks.
All we can do is keep preaching the word about the addiction to sports drinks. Like John the Baptist, we are just “a voice crying out in the wilderness.” Keep informing people the inanity that is sports drinks and try to keep them from your children as much as possible.