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Around the Home: Navigating the grocery options

POSTED: September 28, 2011 1:30 a.m.

I often walk down grocery aisles and marvel at the vast array of products now available to U.S. consumers. The sheer number of choices confuses even the wisest food shopper.

This is the first of a series of articles planned help you make the healthiest, most economical food choices for your family.

When faced with so many choices, consumers need to be savvy food buyers where their children are concerned. Choosing between two or three versions of a product is usually easy. Choosing among hundreds can seem to be impossible, especially if you’re stopping to read the nutrition information or ingredients list on the label.

Sports, energy drinks not for children and teens

Parents should use water, not sports and energy drinks, to rehydrate their thirsty children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is coming out against the routine use of sports drinks and is encouraging a complete ban on energy drinks for children and teenagers, said Connie Crawley, a nutrition specialist with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

"Sports drinks are beverages designed to quickly replenish fluids, carbohydrates and electrolytes like sodium and potassium after vigorous and prolonged exercise," she said. "In contrast, energy drinks contain stimulants like caffeine, guarana, taurine, ginseng, L-carnitine, creatinine and/or glucoronolactone that are supposed to enhance performance."

Soft drinks have already been removed from many school vending machines and replaced with sports and energy drinks, she said. The APA believes young athletes can replenish their nutritional needs just through a healthy diet, not with these drinks.

"There is basically no need for added protein, carbohydrate, sodium and potassium if the child or teenager is eating regular, well-balanced meals throughout the day," she said.

A sports drink may be helpful following an intense workout, Crawley said, but it should not be a routine beverage served with a meal.

The stimulants in energy drinks can cause sleeplessness, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, fluid loss, anxiety and heart arrhythmias. "Children and teens can also become dependent on these substances and may have withdrawal symptoms when they cut down (their intake)," she said.

Withdrawal symptoms include headache, fatigue, poor concentration, drowsiness, decreased alertness, flu-like symptoms, withdrawal from friends and social interaction, irritability, depressed mood, muscle pain, stiffness and even nausea and vomiting.

"The stimulant guarana is a real concern since just one gram of guarana equals 40 milligrams of caffeine," she said. "Often, parents have no idea how much stimulant their child is getting since many energy drinks do not list the total amount on the label."

These drinks can also destroy enamel on teeth, especially if citric acid is an ingredient.

Crawley recommends offering your child water to quench thirst.

"Water is the best fluid for rehydration and low-fat or non-fat milk is sufficient to meet amino acid and protein needs," she said.

Based on an article written by Sharon Dowdy, Extension News Editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The 2012 Hall County Radon Poster Contest

Any student age 9-14 enrolled in public or private school, home-schooled, or who belongs to a sponsoring club: art, computer science, science, scouts or 4-H club, etc., is eligible to enter.

Don’t be late, create your poster now. Look for links to detailed contest information, rules and entry forms vat www.hallcounty4h.info or email Ginger Bennett for information about the danger of breathing radon gas at: bennettg@uga.edu.

Ginger Bennett is a Program Specialist II-Radon Educator with the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. Contact: 770-535-8290, www.hallcounty.org/extension.



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