Sports products impact could be limited
With the Olympic Games about to get underway, millions of people will be tempted to get out their shorts and trainers and begin a health and fitness regime.
Many will also be tempted to splash out on some sports drinks, protein shakes and supplements but according to a new investigation by the BBC’s Panorama programme and the British Medical Journal (BMJ) they could be wasting their money.
According to the advertising of many sports products, they are designed to help with athletic ability as well as health and wellbeing, but the BBC’s study found that in reality there is “a striking lack of evidence” to back these claims up.
The Beeb enlisted a team at Oxford University to look into 431 claims made by sports product manufacturers in 104 advertisements. They found that a lack of high-quality research was lacking in most cases.
Dr Carl Heneghan of the Oxford University Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine said that Lucozade Sport, one of the most popular sports drinks in the UK, claimed to be “an isotonic performance fuel to take you faster, stronger, for longer".
However, when his team contacted the manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for the research behind their claims they were given what is known as a “data dump” rather than conclusive evidence.
Dr Heneghan explained: "In this case, the quality of the evidence is poor, the size of the effect is often minuscule and it certainly doesn't apply to the population at large who are buying these products.
"Basically, when you look at the evidence in the general population, it does not say that exercise is improved [or that] performance is improved by carbohydrate drinks."
GlaxoSmithKline, who has recently been fined in the United States for miselling its products, responded: "Over 40 years of research experience and 85 peer-reviewed studies have supported the development of Lucozade Sport and all our claims are based on scientific evidence that have been reviewed and substantiated by the European Food Safety Authority."
A number of sports supplements products were also found to have little or no actual benefit to users.