Entries in Sports Drinks (5)


Study: Is Science Behind Sports Drinks Self-Serving?

MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/GettyImages(OXFORD, England) -- Coca-Cola's Powerade is the official Olympic sports drink. The bottles are everywhere, even in the hands of America's biggest stars, from Michael Phelps to Chris Paul.

Besides the stars, another essential part to marketing in the $7-billion worldwide sports drink game is science. In the industry, Gatorade, made by Pepsi, is the market leader by far.

But just as the Olympics games began in London a group of researchers at England's Oxford University published a study of the marketing claims and the science behind them in the British Medical Journal.

"We [found] that much of the science has not been well done," Dr. Matthew Thompson, senior clinical scientist at Oxford, told ABC News. "[It] could have easily been done much more rigorously so we'd actually know whether or not these products work."

The Oxford researchers, independent M.D.'s and clinical scientists, looked at more than 400 advertising claims for sports drinks and could not find scientific backing for more than half of them. They characterized many of the rest as flawed science.

"They've used a lot of industry sponsored scientists to do the research, which makes us suspicious," said Thompson. "There's nothing wrong with having a scientific study funded by a company, and this happens all the time with pharmaceuticals and many products. I think what's key is that the science that is done is of high quality."

Most nationally known nutritionists are critical of sports drinks because most contain sugar, half as much as soft drinks, and have little special benefit for casual athletes who work out less than two hours a day. The nutritionists also say sports drinks should not be routinely given to children.

"The sports drinks are grossly oversold," said Kelley Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. "Kids all over the place, teenagers are especially drinking these things like crazy when they don't really need them."

The American Beverage Association disputed the claims made by the study.

"Unfortunately, this series of articles exhibits a clear bias by overlooking widely accepted research on sports drinks. The body of available science supports the benefits of sports drinks for carbohydrate energy and hydration, which are necessary for an athlete's overall health, wellness and athletic performance," the association said in a statement. "Our member companies' marketing makes it clear that sports drinks are formulated for athletes and those who are physically active. ... Sports drinks -- which are available in a range of calories -- can also be an option for those who are working out, training, exposed to high temperatures or simply seeking refreshment as part of an active and healthy lifestyle."

Karen Dolins, a sports nutritionist at Columbia University, has been paid what she says is a pittance by Gatorade as a speaker. She says the fact that a company pays for research doesn't automatically mean the research is invalid.

"I think that's also a very important reason we have peer reviewed journals so that there are people who are reviewing the research," she said.

"The sad, sad state of affairs is where else are you going to get research from?" she said. "You're not going to get large NIH grants to study sports nutrition issues. ... [The money from Gatorade] in no way influences what I do and what I say. I'm a professor. I teach sports nutrition and one of the most important pieces that I try to get across with my students is how to actually evaluate the research."

Dolins agreed the average workout doesn't require a sports drink for hydration.

"Are sports drinks appropriate for everyone? Absolutely not. Are they appropriate for some people? Absolutely so. And I think that determination has to be made on an individual, case by case basis," she said. "I don't think there should be any sweetened beverages in our schools."

The reality check say Oxford researchers is that just because sports drinks may be good for Olympians does not necessarily mean they are good for the rest of us, especially children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Energy, Sports Drinks Destroy Teeth, Says Study

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Sugar may rot your teeth, but the acid in energy and sports drinks will also do some irreversible damage to those pearly whites, say researchers.

A new study published in the journal General Dentistry found that energy and sports drinks contain so much acid that they start destroying teeth after only five days of consistent use. Thirty to 50 percent of American teens use energy drinks, the paper says, and up to 62 percent drink sports drinks at least once a day.

Damage to enamel can cause teeth to become sensitive to touch and temperature changes, and be more susceptible to cavities and decay.

“Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,” said Poonam Jain, lead author of the study. “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”

Jain and colleagues analyzed the acidity of 13 different sports drinks and nine energy drinks by submerging samples of human tooth enamel in each for 15 minutes. They then submerged the samples in artificial saliva for two hours. This was repeated four times a day for five days. The scientists observed damage to the enamel by the time the five days were up.

Energy drinks were the worst culprits, the researchers said. They said acidity levels vary among brands and flavors of energy drinks, and caused twice as much damage as the sports drinks.

“Bacteria convert sugar to acid, and it’s the acid bath that damages enamel, not the sugar directly,” said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Center. “So by incorporating a high acid load in a drink, we are just cutting out the middleman on the way to tooth decay.”

These drinks are glorified sodas, with as much or more sugar, said Katz.

“There may be a role for them for rehydration among endurance athletes under intense training conditions, but sports drinks make little sense for anyone else,” said Katz. “A far better approach would be working to improve sleep quality and quantity and overall health.”

“When these drinks combine a load of acid and sugar, they are detrimental to waistline and smile alike,” said Katz.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Are Sports Drinks Better Than Energy Drinks for Kids?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's pretty common to see kids chugging a Gatorade or other sports drink at a sporting event, but nutrition experts and pediatricians want to make sure people know there's a right time and a wrong time to consume them.

In a report published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers highlighted the differences between sugary, stimulant-containing energy drinks and sports drinks, which come with carbohydrates, electrolytes and other substances designed to hydrate and replenish elements lost through sweat. The report also offers guidance on when it's appropriate for kids to drink them.

"Caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents," wrote the authors, Drs. Marcie Schneider and Holly Benjamin of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Furthermore, frequent or excessive intake of caloric sports drinks can substantially increase the risk for overweight or obesity in children and adolescents."

"The biggest danger is probably the displacement of adequate sources of calcium and vitamin D in the diet," said Dr. Stephen Cook, assistant professor of pediatrics at Golisano Children's Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y. "These beverages are replacing milk, especially the very crucial time of immense bone growth and development."

Instead, athletes should only drink beverages like Gatorade in combination with water after prolonged, vigorous activity when they need to quickly replenish electrolytes. If kids get thirsty before, during or after practice, they should drink water.

Experts say the stimulants in energy drinks can be especially dangerous during intense exercise.

"Using the energy drinks -- as opposed to sports drinks -- as an aid to exercise implies that consumption could occur when heart rate is elevated, raising the risk for heart failure," said Dr. Jana Klauer, a New York physician in private practice who specializes in nutrition.

The report's authors emphasize that kids should never consume sports drinks with meals or just because they are thirsty. Nutritional guidelines recommend that children drink no more than one 8 ounce sugary drink a day, even if they're very active.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Study: Tax on Soda Not Such a Sweet Deal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SINGAPORE) -- Imposing a new tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks might not necessarily have the desired effect of getting consumers to switch to healthier alternatives.

For years, health advocates have proposed surcharges on “junk” drinks as a way of getting people thinner.  It’s estimated that two-thirds of American adults are now either overweight or obese.  But according to a new analysis by health economist Eric Finkelstein, slapping a huge tax on cold drinks would only reduce waistlines by just about a pound annually.

Moreover, the tax on these drinks would shrink home budgets by $28 each year, mainly affecting the middle-class.

On the other hand, these surcharges on sodas, sport beverages and fruit drinks could add between $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion based on taxes of either 20 percent or 40 percent.

Finkelstein, an associate professor of health services at Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, contends that if the government starts taxing sugar drinks, the best use for this extra revenue is putting it toward supplying schools with more nutritious foods and building parks and recreation centers so kids can work off their calories.´╗┐

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Study: Sports Drinks a Hidden Source of Sugar for Kids

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Soda has become public enemy number one in the childhood obesity epidemic, but what about other sweet sippers? Are kids mistakenly subbing fizzy beverages for just-as-caloric fruit and sports drinks? New research from the University of Texas School of Public Health suggests this may be the case.

Researchers found that unhealthy behaviors such as eating fried foods and physical inactivity "were associated with soda consumption, but healthy habits tended to be associated with higher intake of flavored and sports drinks," Deanna Hoelscher, professor of behavioral sciences and co-author on the study told ABC News. "That surprised us because it looks like kids think that these flavored and sports drinks are healthier for them," she adds.

Past research has lumped all sugar-sweetened beverages together, but this study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, looked specifically at how kids may be consuming non-soda sweet drinks, such as fruit punch or sports beverages.

While many of these drinks pack the same size caloric punch as soda, the data suggested that kids who were otherwise eating healthy and getting exercise where more likely to consume these drinks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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