THE health experts behind the Rethink Sugary Drink campaign are urging Australians to give their teeth a break and cut out sports drinks for good as part of Dental Health Week.
Dental Health Week 2015 runs until August 9 and focuses on how sports can impact oral health.
This includes raising awareness of how sports drinks, and other sports-related conditions such as dehydration, can damage teeth.
Dr Peter Alldritt, Chair of the Australian Dental Association (ADA) Oral Health Committee, a Rethink Sugary Drink supporter, says sports drinks contain up to 13 teaspoons of sugar per bottle - more than a can of Coca-Cola - and are highly acidic, leaving teeth subject to decay.
"Not only are sports drinks acidic and high in sugar, but people tend to sip on them frequently during exercise rather than consuming them all at once. This increases the time that teeth are exposed and leaves them vulnerable to dental damage," said Dr Alldritt.
"Sports drinks are designed for elite athletes and not the average weekend warrior. Frequent use can cause teeth erosion and increase your risk of tooth decay. We are alarmed that people consume these drinks even when they're not exercising - when they are working at their desk or watching TV. Water should be the choice for hydration," Dr Alldritt added.
Chair of the Public Health Committee at Cancer Council Australia, Craig Sinclair, says the health risks associated with regular sports drink consumption extend beyond teeth.
"Like other sugary beverages such as soft drinks and energy drinks, the excess sugar in sports drinks can lead to weight gain and increase your risk of serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, some cancers, heart and kidney disease and stroke," Mr Sinclair said.
Rethink Sugary Drink is calling for a comprehensive approach from Australian governments, schools, non-government organisations and others to raise awareness of how sports drinks and other sugary drinks can affect our health.
"Sugary drinks are available everywhere, particularly in venues frequented by young people such as schools, sports centres and sporting clubs, making messages about healthier options more difficult to be heard," Mr Sinclair said.
"It's important not to buy into the demand for these drinks created by advertising. Despite what sports drink brands and the sports stars who promote them might tell you, the majority of us don't need sports drinks in our diets. A well-balanced diet with plenty of water is all the average person needs before, during and after physical activity. Your hip pocket and your body will be much healthier if you choose water instead."
"To reduce consumption we need a range of policies and programs to restrict the sale of sugary drinks in venues popular with young people and ongoing education about how sugary drinks can affect your health. We want water to become the drink of choice for young people."