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Research Says Sports Drinks Just As Bad As Soda

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- More children and teenagers are drinking sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, instead of soda.

While that may sound like a good thing, new research from the University of Minnesota shows, in most cases, it's not a better option.

Researchers say the increased consumption of sports drinks is adding to the obesity epidemic.

Mary Story is a researcher at the U of M's school of public health, which just released a report on sports drinks.

"For most kids, there is no reason for them to have sports drinks," Story said. "It's not going to increase their physical performance. It's not a healthy drink."

Story says a 20-ounce sports drink may have fewer calories than a soda, but it has more sugar and more sodium -- and no nutritional value.

While the best athletes in the world are guzzling down Powerade at the Olympic Games, sports drinks have become more than a part of the culture of athletics.

Story says 83 percent of the high schools in the U.S. sell sports drinks and 55 percent of middle schools do too.

It's become popular everyday drink that Story says is part of why more and more kids are overweight.

Marathon runners, competitive cyclists, and football players doing two-a-days are the kind of people who should be drinking it.

Story says for those doing an hour-plus of intense exercise would benefit from a sports drink, others should stick with water.

Story says the color additives, and citric acid in these drinks, which is bad for your teeth, are other reasons not to drink sports drinks.

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