BMJ issues damning report on sports nutrition industry20 July 2012
Oxford University academics writing in the British Medical Journal in conjunction with the BBC documentary series Panorama have launched an extraordinary attack on the sports nutrition industry, prompting a backlash from manufacturers and industry bodies.
The scientists also criticised the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for a lack of rigour in its assessment and authorisation of performance claims.
Martin Cheifetz, the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's vice-chair described the programme, which documented the Oxford Uni as a "slaughterfest for the industry".
The scientists investigated 431 performance-enhancing claims for 104 sports products and reported weak scientific evidence to support a variety of health claims. These included small sample sizes, poor trial design, misuse of data, inappropriate use of relative measures and insufficient management of environmental factors.
Deborah Cohen, British Medical Journal’s investigations editor criticised the sports nutrition industry for misleading messages which "filter down to everyday health advice by company-sponsored scientists who advise high-profile sports bodies.”
“For instance, fear about the dangers of dehydration has become gospel and now influences what and how we drink when we exercise. It’s a triumph of marketing over science.”
Sports drinks firms and industry bodies hit back at the damning assessment of the industry and defended the science used to make performance and nutritional claims.
“We take our responsibilities to consumers very seriously,” said Maria Potter, communications director at Consumer Healthcare Great Britain & Ireland.
“Consumers trust the quality of our products, the science behind our claims and the benefits that they themselves feel when they use them. We do not promote Lucozade Sport to children under 16, we label contents clearly, and we are careful to focus our marketing on encouraging participation in sport and supporting those who exercise.
“We will always listen carefully to consumer feedback and the views of the scientific community, including those that might disagree with our claims.
"We would be happy to meet with the BMJ and the Centre for Evidence based Medicine to understand their position,” she said.
Meanwhile, Richard Laming, The British Soft Drinks Association’s media director said that sports drinks encourage people to exercise more and are developed using the “latest scientific evidence and medical knowledge”.
“It is well established that one of the factors that can help sporting performance is drinking the right amount of the right kind of drink, and there is a range of sports drinks available which are designed to meet the varying requirements of different kinds of exercise,” he said.
Food ingredients Istanbul
Fi Asia China
Fi South America