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   Sep 24

Sports drinks have ‘no proven benefits’ and their promotion by celebrities should be banned, say doctors

Study: The health benefits of popular rehydration drinks remain unproven

Specialist sports drinks offer little benefit over plain water for those exercising for 90 minutes or less, doctors say

Celebrity promotion misleads fans into thinking drinks are good for health

Sports drinks are useless for the majority of people and their use by celebrities simply misleads the public into thinking they work, experts have warned.

A host of world class sportsmen, including Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, or golf champion Tiger Woods have had sponsorship deals with sport drink manufacturers.

Although they are not as deadly as tobacco, researchers said fans and spectators may be misled into thinking these products boost sporting prowess and are good for health.

Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale (left) currently has a sponsorship deal with Lucozade Sport, while golf champion Tiger Woods, (right) endorsed Gatorade until 2010

But Australian researchers said any health benefits claimed by rehydration drinks remain unproven.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, they said: ‘Such sponsorship could mislead the public into thinking these products work well and/or are good for health—for which there is no strong scientific evidence.’

Previous research, published in BMJ Open, found a ‘striking lack of evidence’ to support claims about improved performance and recovery for many sports products like drinks.

Experts advise that specialist sports drinks offered little benefit over plain water if you are exercising for 90 minutes or less.

At this level, the main concern is to replace fluid lost through sweat to avoid dehydration, and water does the job perfectly well.

Writing in the BMJ, Simon Outram and Bob Stewart of the Institute of Sport, Exercise, and Active Living, in Melbourne, Australia, said: ‘Successful sponsorship campaigns remove or minimise any scepticism about the product, a common reaction to advertising.

‘A form of seamless or hidden product association is created whereby such products come to be seen as integral to sport – the sports supplement or sports drink.’

Celebrity endorsement helps to promote that idea, they said.

They argued: ‘It is for good reason that nutritional supplement and sports drinks companies invest heavily in sports sponsorship.

Sports drinks can contain up to 30g – or six cubes – of sugar. NHS guidelines recomend 70g of added sugar for men and 50g for women a day

‘Such sponsorship – together with associated product endorsements and advertising – conveys the message that their products are integral to sporting engagement and achievement.

‘Sport may have found itself lending unwarranted credibility to products which would otherwise not necessarily be seen as beneficial for participation in sports and exercise or as inherently healthy products.’

They added: ‘If sport authorities, teams, and sports personalities distanced themselves from supplement and drinks company sponsorship, ways would have to be found to cover the financial gap created.

‘Lessons can be learnt from the history of tobacco sponsorship and its gradual restriction, which did not lead to the wholesale collapse of sport.’

The World Anti-Doping Agency has also highlighted the potential inclusion of undeclared and banned substances in these products as a result of global differences in labelling and manufacture.


Experts advise that specialist sports drinks offer little benefit over plain water if you are exercising for 90 minutes or less
Gatorade (500ml)

125 calories

30g sugar (six cubes)

Also contains potassium and sodium

Lucozade Sport (500 ml)

140 calories

17.5g sugar (three and a half cubes)

Aslo contains sodium, niacin, Vitamin b6 and B12 and pantothenic acid

Powerade ION4 (500ml)

85 calories

19.5g sugar (almost four cubes)

Also contains sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium

Isostar Fast Hydration (500ml)

145 calories

30g sugar (six cubes)

Also contains sodium, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B1

Source: Daily Mail

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