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Nutritionists Want Gatorade Out of Schools

Nutritionists Want Gatorade Out of Schools

"For years we've been programmed to believe that sports drinks are healthy and you need to replenish those electrolytes after you go out and walk the dog..."
--- Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest

October 18, 2007 —

Senator Tom Harkin has introduced a bill that aims to ban flavored water and sports drinks from being sold in schools. The drinks, which beverage companies have worked hard to paint as healthful alternatives to soda and other high-sugar drinks, have recently come under attack for their high sodium content and for sugar levels that many nutritionists say are still far too high.

"When you look at the ingredients, it's water, high-fructose corn syrup and salt," said Mary Story, a professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota.  "The question is, who is really benefiting? Is it the kids or the companies that make [the drinks]?"

Sales of sports drinks in schools have increased dramatically in recent years, and it appears marketing campaigns tying the drinks to a healthy, athletic lifestyle have succeeded in creating the impression that the drinks themselves are healthy. A spokesman for the American Beverage Association went so far as to call the drinks "an essential beverage" for student athletes. But with an estimated 75 percent of students exceeding their daily recommended intake of sodium, and new studies indicating that high blood pressure is a problem for people of all ages, concern is growing that these drinks are anything but healthy.

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