Study Shows Alarming Consumption of Acidic Sports Drinks by Youth

A recent study demonstrates once again the popularity of acidic sports drinks and their detriment to the oral health of kids in Britain. The study highlights the low pH of these drinks: “Many sports drinks have a pH below 5.5, the critical pH for the demineralization of enamel, leading to erosion.”1,2


The study warns dental providers to pay attention to the consumption of these drinks and shares that most parents are unaware of the harm these beverages can do. Many kids reported consuming the beverages outside of a sporting event, and drinking them simply because they enjoy the taste. With the onset of summer, be sure to talk to parents about the consumption of acidic beverages including sports drinks.


For further reading:

British Dental Journal 220, 639 – 643 (2016)
Published online: 24 June 2016 | doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2016.449



A survey of sports drinks consumption among adolescents

D. Broughton1, R. M. Fairchild2 & M. Z. Morgan1

  • Quantifies the consumption of sports drinks by high school children.
  • Confirms that consumption is high and not always associated with sports activity.
  • Taste was viewed as the prime reason for consumption.
  • Enhancement of sporting ability was not stated as a reason for use.
  • The popularity of these palatable high sugar and acidic drinks has implications for children’s oral health.



Background Sports drinks intended to improve performance and hydrate athletes taking part in endurance sport are being marketed to children, for whom these products are not intended. Popularity among children has grown exponentially. Worryingly they consume them socially, as well as during physical activity. Sports drinks are high in sugar and are acidic. Product marketing ignores the potential harmful effects of dental caries and erosion.

Results One hundred and sixty children responded (87% response rate): 89.4% (143) claimed to drink sports drinks, half drinking them at least twice a week. Lucozade Sport™ was the most popular brand. The main reason for consuming the drinks was attributed to the ‘nice taste’ (90%, 129/143). Most respondents purchased the drinks from local shops (80.4%, 115) or supermarkets (54.5%, 78). More boys claimed to drink sports drinks during physical activity (77.9% versus 48.6% girls, P <0.001). Whereas more girls claimed to drink them socially (51.4% versus 48.5% boys, NS).

Conclusion A high proportion of children consumed sports drinks regularly and outside of sporting activity. Dental health professionals should be aware of the popularity of sports drinks with children when giving health education advice or designing health promotion initiatives.



  1. Sirimaharaj V, Brearley Messer L, Morgan M V. Acidic diet and dental erosion among athletes. Aust Dent J2002; 47: 228–236. | Article | PubMed 
  2. Rees J, Loyn T, McAndrew R. The acidic and erosive potential of five sports drinks.Eur J Prosthodont Restor Dent 2005; 13: 186–190. | PubMed 

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