Back-to-School: Dehydration Not Just Athletes Concern Says LSU AgCenter Nutritionist

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  4/19/2005 10:28:35 PM

News You Can Use For July 2004

High temperatures in the early school year can be a great threat, not only to athletes, but to all active kids. Many children require medical attention because of dehydration and heat illnesses, according to LSU Agricultural Center nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

To protect children from becoming dehydrated, Reames recommends teachers and coaches get the youth to drink enough fluids before, during and after physical activities. Offer regular breaks and ensure that fluids are readily available. Supervise them carefully when they're active, especially on hot days when fluid needs are even greater. Consider fluids as part of the essential safety equipment for sports.

Warning signs of dehydration include thirst, headaches and unusual fatigue. Research shows that children are more susceptible to dehydration and heat illness than adults, but a survey commissioned by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign revealed that more than three out of four parents of active kids aged 8-14 do not know how to prevent dehydration in their children.

Reames offers a few basics all parents and child caregivers should know:

• A child can lose up to a quart of sweat during two hours of exercise.

• Children absorb more heat from their environment than adults and cannot dissipate that heat through sweat as quickly.

• Children don't perspire as much as teens and adults, so their body's "air-conditioning" system is less effective. They generate more body heat with exercise, too.

• Children don't adjust as quickly when they exercise in hot weather. Protective gear used in many sports, such as hockey and football, hinders their bodies' ability to cool off, too.

"It’s important to drink before, during and after activity to replace what is lost through sweat," Reames says, recommending cool water for most types of exercise of one hour or less under moderate temperature conditions.

Studies have shown that children often prefer lightly flavored sports drinks over water, and will drink more fluid when these beverages are available. These beverages contain carbohydrates, which help provide energy, especially in strenuous exercise of one hour or longer.

Defeat the Heat – a partnership of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), with support from The Gatorade Company – is a public safety campaign dedicated to protecting active kids from dangerous dehydration and heat illness.

In its third year, it is increasing its public safety campaign to protect young athletes from dehydration with help from professional sports leagues including the Women’s World Cup Soccer League, U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at
Extension/Departments/fcs/ For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3329, or

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