Summertime is a wonderful time for kids to be active outside playing sports, attending camp, or running around on the beach. The more active they are, especially in warm weather, the more they will sweat. Sweating is the body’s primary way of releasing heat from the body. While this process is natural and essential, it also means that the body is losing water. Water is vital to bodily functions, sports performance, and injury risk reduction1. Therefore, it is important to take preventative measures to hydrate before and after warm weather activities1,2.
When trying to quench their thirst, sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices are often what children reach for first3. While delivering fluids, these beverages can add anywhere from 91-500 daily excess calories to children’s diets, provide no satiety or nutrients, contain high sugar levels, may contain caffeine inappropriate for children, and often lead to a preference for these beverages over water or milk4,5.
While water seems like an obvious replacement for sugar-sweetened beverages, it lacks the electrolytes needed after fluid loss due to sweating, and children often prefer a drink with flavor5.
Here are some ways to keep your kids (and yourself!) healthy and hydrated before and after summer activities without the use of sugar-sweetened beverages:
- Ensure that they consume fluids before, during, and after physical activity.
- Limit access and exposure to sugar-sweetened beverages in your home.
- Model frequent water drinking.
- Encourage your child to pick out a fun water bottle to keep with them throughout the day.
- Prioritize water-containing foods such as fruits, vegetables, broths, or healthy smoothies.
- Make your own electrolyte drink!
- Make your drink more fun and tastier with rainbow ice cubes.
For high-intensity or physical activity lasting longer than an hour:
- Drink a few gulps of a sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes to maintain electrolyte levels and sustain performance.
- Consider replacing electrolytes with high water and salt-containing foods, such as broth-based soups or vegetable juice.
- Opt for a low-calorie, electrolyte-containing sports drink such as Gatorade Zero.
Choosing healthy options for hydration ensures long-lasting summer fun even on the hottest of days!
1. SCAN Registered Dietitians. (2013) How to maximize performance hydration.
2. Yustika, G. P., Santoso, E. B., & Sumartiningsih, S. (2019). The Importance of Hydration for Soccer Athletes. Media Ilmu Keolahragaan Indonesia, 9(1), 23-31.
3. Bottin, J. H., Morin, C., Guelinckx, I., & Perrier, E. T. (2019). Hydration in children: what do we know, and why does it matter? Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 74(3), 11-18.
4. Bleakley, A., Jordan, A., Mallya, G., Hennessy, M., & Piotrowski, J. T. (2018). Do you know what your kids are drinking? Evaluation of a media campaign to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. American Journal of Health Promotion, 32(6), 1409-1416.
5. Eck, K. M., Dinesen, A., Garcia, E., Delaney, C. L., Famodu, O. A., Olfert, M. D., & Shelnutt, K. P. (2018). “Your body feels better when you drink water”: parent and school-age children’s sugar-sweetened beverage cognitions. Nutrients, 10(9), 1232.
Erin Comollo, Ed.D. Program Development Administrator, New Jersey Healthy Kids Initiative