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Survey Shows Parent Confusion On Nutrition

Myths About Sports Nutrition Abound

A new, first-of-its-kind survey conducted for the American Dietetic Association's sports nutrition practice group, SCAN(Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists), finds that many parents are confused about the right foods and fluids to give their kids who play sports.

The survey polled parents of children between the ages of six and 12 years old involved in organized sports. The key findings included:

What Parents Thought What Nutritionists Say
arrow High protein diets build muscles. Nearly 60 percent of parents said a child should eat lots of high-protein foods to increase muscle size.


arrow Active kids get muscles from a well-balanced diet (50 to 55 percent carbohydrate, 10 to 15 percent protein and 25 to 30 percent fat). Contrary to popular belief, extra protein doesn't mean bigger muscles since muscle size is dependent on adequate calories from a balanced diet, physical maturity, genetics and training. Most kids get adequate protein in their diets.


arrow Drink when thirsty. More than 70 percent of parents said active kids should drink when they're thirsty instead of on a drinking schedule.


arrow Active kids should drink on a schedule because thirst is a poor indicator of a child's (or adult's) hydration status. In fact, by the time a child is thirsty, they're probably already slightly dehydrated. Kids should be consistently reminded to drink before, during and after activity. Parents can tell kids to drink until they aren't thirsty: then drink a few more gulps. For fluid guidelines, click here.


arrow Water rehydrates best. More than 67 percent of parents said water was the best fluid for rehydrating a young athlete participating in sports.


arrow Sports drinks are best for active kids. Water is an adequate thirst quencher and also rehydrates, however research has shown kids drank 90 percent more of a flavored sports drink with electrolytes (sodium and potassium) than water to help kids stay better hydrated.


arrow High protein diet is best. 37 percent, more than one-third of parents, said a high-protein diet is best for fueling a child's athletic performance.


arrow Diets rich in carbohydrates are best because they provide the body's most important fuel for exercise. Despite the popularity of high-protein diets, they aren't based on sound research, especially when it comes to kids.


arrow Only hot weather causes dehydration. Almost one-third of parents or more than 32 percent of those surveyed said their kids can't become dehydrated while playing outdoors when the temperature is less than 70 degrees.


arrow Children can become dehydrated no matter what the temperature. It's critical for 6 to 12 year-olds to be properly hydrated because they have special fluid needs (among other things, they produce more heat, absorb more heat from the environment and don't sweat as effectively as adults do).


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