What’s healthier? Can of soda or an FSB?

Which is healthier, a can of soda or a bottle of a flavored sports beverage (FSB)? What would your child say?

New research to be published in the October 2010 print issue of Pediatrics finds that kids associate BOTH sodas and FSBs with snacking and watching TV.

No longer are drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, and others  used only by athletes during and after tough workouts to replenish fluids. These drinks have become a pantry staple for many kids and families.

You can find them for purchase alongside the soda in many locations, such as fast food drive-thrus and  vending machines.

Study findings noted that FSBs were associated with increased milk, fruit and vegetable consumption and greater physical activity. The perception that these drinks are a healthy choice, says the AAP, shows that marketing efforts are working.

In reality, these drinks may contain around half the calories of the equivalent size soda, but they are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and lack the vitamins found in fruit juice and the protein found in low-fat milk.

Recognizing these misperceptions is important, says the AAP, in obesity prevention efforts.

Sports drinks are formulated to replace electrolytes, or the sodium and potassium lost during a tough workout. The added carbohydrates help the body to absorb these minerals faster. It’s good science, says the American College of Sports Medicine.

But that’s not the point.

If you don’t need to replace electrolytes, that is, if your workout doesn’t last longer than 45 minutes or is not particularly intense– or maybe you’re a kid who’s watching some TV — what’s wrong with a cold, no calorie, thirst-quenching, money-saving glass of iced water?