OGDEN -- While health experts don't want to put a damper on summertime lemonade stands, they recommend kids drink plenty of water during the hot months and cut down on sodas and sports drinks.
Dr. Tamara Sheffield, spokeswoman for Intermountain Healthcare's LiVe public service campaign, said an increased consumption of sweetened sodas and sports drinks is helping fuel the obesity epidemic among children and teens.
"Most people would be really surprised if they knew how much sugar was in their favorite drink," Sheffield said. "Since most beverages have been super-sized to 20 ounces or more, that's 15 to 20 teaspoons of sugar in the most popular soft drinks."
These drinks, Sheffield said, are considered to be empty calories because they provide the body with no nutrients, just calories that add weight. That weight gain can lead to all sorts of problems, including heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke and type-2 diabetes.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, drinking too much soda and even fruit juice can lead to problems such as dental caries, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating, gas and abdominal pain.
Instead of quenching your child's thirst with these drinks, the academy recommends good old water or low-fat or fat-free milk. If you do opt for fruit juice, be sure it's 100 percent juice and have your child drink it in moderation.
"Water is a wonderful beverage," Sheffield said. "We should aim for drinking six to eight cups of water a day. It's a naturally high-octane option that not only quenches your thirst -- it helps carry nutrients through your system. And it's free."
Sports drinks don't offer any real health or performance benefits for kids, Sheffield said. However, if children participate in endurance sports for more than an hour, such as long-distance running, biking or high-intensity games, they may help.
"But they're really not necessary for the casual athlete and can increase the risk of excess weight gain. They are definitely not for sedentary kids. Basically, the average child athlete can and should get all the necessary nutrients and hydration by eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water before, during and after exercise," she said.
Two of the early signs of dehydration are irritability and fatigue. Weakness, headache, clammy skin and vomiting are more serious signs. If your child shows any of the symptoms, kidshealth.org suggests bringing your child inside or into the shade. Loosen or remove clothing and encourage them to eat and drink. If you can, give your child a bath in cool water. If the problem is serious, call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Your child may need intravenous fluids.
Energy drinks are another concern, according to Sheffield, the American Academy of Pediatrics and healthykids.org. Most of these drinks deliver plenty of sugar and as much caffeine as in one to three cups of coffee, which leads to dehydration.
Some of the drinks can also be downright dangerous. According to the National Institutes of Health, some kids may suffer caffeine intoxication, dependence and withdrawal. One study also links the drinks to seizures, delusions, heart problems and kidney and liver problems in children younger than 18.
So, is it OK for kids to open up that lemonade stand as their summertime business venture?
Absolutely, but instead of sugar, care2.com/greenliving, suggests adding honey, and use real lemons instead of powdered mix.
For more information, visit www.intermountainlive.org.