Monday, October 08, 2012

Junior Achievement Reading Comprehension Pushes Sports Drinks (Parental No Files)

Dedicated blog reader and healthful living advocate Casey Hinds sent this my way. It's a lesson from her 10 year old daughter's Junior Achievement (JA) program.

For those of you who aren't aware, JA provides in-school and after-school programming for kids in kindergarten through Grade 12 in an aim to improve their work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. According to a recent press release, JA programs reach 4 million American children and an additional 5.8 million in 127 countries worldwide.

The lesson in question was teaching 5th graders about "resources" and to illustrate their points they used the story of Dr. Robert Cole, the inventor of Gatorade.

Looking through the scans among other things this JA lesson on "Resources" taught Grade 5 students were,
"water wasn't enough to keep his players healthy and capable of playing in the hot weather",

"when athletes lose fluid by sweating they also experience changes in body temperature and blood pressure. These changes can cause serious damage and even death",

"To replace what pours from the body during exercise, the research group created a drink that would get these fluids, salts and minerals back into the athletes' bodies quickly",

"As the Florida football team began to win national games, the word spread that their secret weapon was Gatorade"
So perhaps it wasn't then all that surprising that when Casey asked her 10 year old daughter what she learned from the lesson her daughter answered,
"Gatorade is good for athletes".
Wanna know what's in a sport drink?

Here's a video I made a few months ago, and yes, while elite athletes and those who are truly killing themselves exercising for truly lengthy periods of time may find sport drinks useful, those descriptors don't fit many Grade 5 students.

Lastly Casey found it rather ironic that Junior Achievement recently accepted $300,000 from Coca-Cola. Ironic in that it's Pepsi-Co that makes Gatorade.

Personally I wonder whether this Gatorade advertisement occurred consequent to a back in the day Pepsi donation around the time this lesson plan was created or whether it is simply consequent to the incredible job sport drink makers have done in convincing the world their products are essential despite less than robust scientific consensus.

So while a parent may not be promoting the consumption of sugary sport drinks to their children, that doesn't mean their childrens' schools, institutions that children (and parents) implicitly trust, aren't.

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  1. I thought that when Gatorade was first created it had very little sugar and tasted like warm...piss. They only added the sugar later on so they could sell it to the general public instead of only to athletes who train for 6 hours a day.

  2. Yuck. I had an argument with someone recently, a parent in Nevada who was convinced you needed Gatorade "because of the hot dry climate". (I was thirsty and going for the water and he was pushing the sports drink on me for that reason.) Feeds it to his two kids when they're doing sports - claims that they perform better that way and have more energy than when they just get water. Yes, sure, because of sugar/calories. Sigh.

    1. Sigh indeed.

      That said, my experience in trying to change someone's mind regarding nutrition is that it's akin to trying to change their mind about religion.

      I've stopped trying unless explicitly asked for my opinion and even then, if I see they disagree from the get go, I try to bail on the discussion as quickly as possible.

  3. Anonymous9:56 am

    This is beyond sad. Over the summer months, I noticed gas stations and even Loblaws selling energy drinks at a reduced / mega slash prices - message of course is that those chemical drinks will quench your thirst. The part that disturbs me is children gulping it down as juice (which is another issue of itself). Red Bull is WHOLE different rant of mine which I will spare you :-D
    I think we need to reset a few social buttons (1) the personal trainer fad needs to chill a bit (2) moderation and portion control (3) back to basic foods and food prepping.
    My 2 cents....

    1. Anonymous9:39 pm

      Dr Robert Cade died of kidney failure... just saying...

  4. I love Gatorade no matter what you say against it. LOL

  5. Anonymous1:19 pm

    JA is pretty problematic. My daughter was so excited to go to JA Biztown in 4th grade. When I asked her about it last month (5 years later) she described the experience as "So disappointing! One big product placement." See pp. 23-24 here: