Lose the lollies - why lollies should not be seen at kids’ sport

Jelly snakes.jpg

Lollies are for parties. 

They were when I was a kid anyway.

How confectionery has become part of post-game culture at junior sporting venues has me bewildered.  Somehow, the practice of elite endurance athletes, who are known to use simple forms of sugar as fuel during prolonged training and events, has transcended to kids’ being handed a bucket full of colourful jellies as primary recovery food following a 36-minute basketball game.  Why?  Or why not should be of greater concern for parents across Australia who are effectively the gatekeepers of the regular post-game sugar fest.

How did this happen?

Jelly lollies have become popular with endurance athletes as a convenient, portable and enjoyable carbohydrate source for lengthy training sessions.  Long rides or runs, where it may be difficult to consume adequate solid foods, make lollies an easy choice for a quick energy boost.

A typical junior sporting event usually takes less than 1 hour.  I am talking typical team sports here, in particular the ones I attend on a regular basis - basketball and footy.  Every time I attend a game, at any venue, I almost always spy lollies or chocolate in some form (ok, Saturday 8am basketball perhaps less likely, but not completely unexpected…).

This concerns me……a 10 year old does not need a quick acting carbohydrate immediately before, during or after a game, especially if they have eaten well beforehand.  Yes, kids do get hungry after sport, and recovery may also be a consideration for particularly active children.  Give the child some proper food to eat.   There is absolutely no need for lollies post-game. 

Why am I so angry!

Lollies and junior sport should not be used in the same sentence and here’s why:

-        Feeding children lollies after a game creates the perception that lollies are an everyday food, or even worse teaches kids that lollies and sweet foods are a reward for effort.

-        During and after sport a child’s saliva production is reduced and teeth are vulnerable to attack (so my wonderful dentist thoughtfully reminds me) – introducing a sticky, sugary sweet is asking for trouble.  Want a massive dental bill – keep giving your kids lollies (and sports drink) every time they run around a court.

-        There are SO many better choices out there to help kids recover, feel good and fill them up after sport. 

Sure, it may just be a jelly snake here and there and you may think I am over-reacting, but kids get enough opportunities to eat lollies at other times.  Keep the lollies where they belong – in beautifully packaged little bags handed to guests as a birthday celebration thank you.  Not in the sports bag.