[Ip-health] 'Lack of evidence' that popular sports products work - Glaxo & the Euro Food Safety Auth
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Wed Jul 18 23:47:32 PDT 2012
[Of course, like cosmetics these things get to be marketed, but if you
want to market traditional medicines then all hell breaks loose
regarding evidence based health... EU joins the US FDA in junk
science...And let's be clear, the conflict of interest reporting in even
the BMJ still leaves a lot to be desired..., ]
19 July 2012 Last updated at 01:23 GMT
'Lack of evidence' that popular sports products work
Consumers could be wasting their money on sports drinks, protein shakes
and high-end trainers, according to a new joint investigation by BBC
Panorama and the British Medical Journal.
The investigation into the performance-enhancing claims of some popular
sports products found "a striking lack of evidence" to back them up.
A team at Oxford University examined 431 claims in 104 sport product
adverts and found a "worrying" lack of high-quality research, calling
for better studies to help inform consumers.
Dr Carl Heneghan of the Oxford University Centre for Evidence-Based
Medicine led the independent research into the claims made by the makers
of sports drinks, protein shakes and trainers.
"Yet another fashion accessory for exercise... and a rather expensive
way of getting a bit of milk"
Nutrition Expert Mike Lean on sport supplements
In the case of Lucozade Sport, the UK's best-selling sports drink, their
advert says it is "an isotonic performance fuel to take you faster,
stronger, for longer".
Dr Heneghan and his team asked manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for
details of the science behind their claims and were given what he said
scientists call a "data dump" - 40 years' worth of Lucozade sports
research which included 176 studies.
Dr Heneghan said the mountain of data included 101 trials that the
Oxford team were able to examine before concluding: "In this case, the
quality of the evidence is poor, the size of the effect is often
miniscule 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."*
*In response, GlaxoSmithKline said they disagreed with the Oxford team's
*"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."*
GSK is also the manufacturer of the Maxinutrition range of sports
supplements, which is endorsed by some of Britain's top athletes,
including the Olympic triathalon team and English Rugby Union.
Some of GSK's supplements in the Maxinutrition range contain branch
chain amino acids which are found in muscle protein. The company says
these amino acids "help hard-training athletes recover faster after
intense exercise". The supplements sell for as much as £34 a tub.
But the Oxford research team and the British Medical Journal said the
science does not back up that claim.
Dr Heneghan said: "The evidence does not stack up and the quality of the
evidence does not allow us to say these do improve in performance or
recovery and should be used as a product widely."
*Nutrition expert Professor Mike Lean of the University of Glasgow
described what little evidence there is that certain amino acids, which
form part of proteins, may improve muscle strength as "absolutely fringe
evidence and I think that that is almost totally irrelevant, even at the
top level of athletics".*
Prof Lean said the market for supplements is "yet another fashion
accessory for exercise... and a rather expensive way of getting a bit of
*GSK said in response: "We stand by the evidence that branch chain amino
acids can enhance performance or recovery."*
But the company said it accepted recently revised rules from the
European Food Safety Authority about what claims manufacturers can make
about their sports products and supplements and said it will "revise our
label accordingly while we gather further evidence required to
substantiate the claims we believe can be made".
In the case of trainers, the Oxford team examined the claims made by
Puma that their shoes - endorsed by Olympic champion Usain Bolt - are
"designed to... minimise injury, optimise comfort and maximise speed".
Dr Heneghan said his team could find no evidence to back up the
company's claims and Puma declined to provide his research team with any
studies to prove that their shoes can deliver on those claims.
Lucozade Sport is a major sponsor and popular with professional athletes
and amateurs alike
"That should be really underpinned by good quality evidence... I cannot
quite understand how you get from the evidence to that claim. If you
can't find research for it, how can you then make that claim?"
Puma declined to reply to the BBC about the Oxford team's findings.
Professor Benno Nigg of the University of Calgary in Canada, has been
studying the biomechanics of running for more than 40 years.
He said the conventional thinking was that cushioning and control were
the key health benefits of running shoes - but that idea has been proven
wrong by recent studies that showed no difference in injury rates if
runners were prescribed structured shoes meant to control how their foot
lands as they run.
"The most important predictors for injuries are distance, recovery time,
intensity and those type of things... the shoes come very, very later as
Prof Nigg's advice to runners is to find something that fits.
"If you can find a shoe where you just enjoy that activity and you are
comfortable, that's all you need."
*Panorama: The Truth About Sports Products, BBC One, Thursday, 19 July
at 20:00 BST and then available in the UK on the *BBC iPlayer
More information about the Ip-health