It's amazing what one word can do.
Call something a "sugary drink" and there's no doubt about what it is: An unhealthy drink filled with sugar and empty calories.
But call that same beverage a "sports drink," and suddenly people believe it's a healthy choice.
Yes, Gatorade, I'm talking to you. Same for you, Powerade, vitaminwater and Lifewater.
These drinks perpetuate the myth that sugary drinks can be healthy if you just add a vitamin or two and give it a catchy name--and a new study shows how kids have fallen for that myth.
Researchers examined the eating habits, physical activity levels and drink consumption of roughly 15,000 Texas children between 8th and 11th grades, and found that the ones with the healthiest habits drank more sports drinks.
These kids even ate more fruits and vegetables.
Kids with unhealthier habits and lower levels of physical activity, on the other hand, drank more soda and ate fewer fruits and veggies.
The researchers say kids trying to be healthy associated the sports drinks with a healthy lifestyle. In reality, they were drinking the same basic ingredients as the soda crowd: sugar and flavorings.
But of course, they don't announce those ingredients on the front of the label. Instead, they carefully market the potassium, sodium and other electrolytes--and the belief that you need to replace them whenever you work out.
The researchers behind the new study say these drinks should be reserved for "extreme exercise." In fact, most studies have found that you'd need to work out at a high level for an hour or more before you'd need to replace lost electrolytes.
But that hasn't stopped these drinks from becoming the beverage of choice after even the lightest of workouts-- and some people even reach for them after pretend workouts.
Gatorade advertises its drinks inside sports videogames-- and believe it or not, those ads have been wildly successful, because a new analysis finds that household spending on Gatorade shoots up 24 percent when someone starts shooting virtual hoops.
It's as if gamers believe they're getting a real workout by playing video basketball!
Bottom line here is that light to moderate exercise is a healthy habit for most people... but you can quickly cancel out any benefits by downing a sugary drink.
Stick to water instead.