||07-23-2012 06:43 AM
The Truth About Sports Drinks.
The Truth About Sports Drinks.
Prehydrate; drink ahead of thirst; train your gut to tolerate more fluid; your brain doesn’t know you’re thirsty—the public and athletes alike are bombarded with messages about what they should drink, and when, during exercise. But these drinking dogmas are relatively new. In the 1970s, marathon runners were discouraged from drinking fluids for fear that it would slow them down, says Professor Tim Noakes, Discovery health chair of exercise and sports science at Cape Town University. At the first New York marathon in 1970, there was little discussion about the role of hydration—it was thought to have little scientific value.
So how did the importance of hydration gain traction? An investigation by the BMJ has found that companies have sponsored scientists, who have developed a whole area of science dedicated to hydration. These same scientists advise influential sports medicine organisations, which have developed guidelines that have filtered down to everyday health advice. These guidelines have influenced the European Food Safety Authority, the EU agency that provides independent advice on the evidence underpinning health claims relating to food and drink. And they have spread fear about the dangers of dehydration.
Much of the focus on hydration can be traced back to the boom in road running, which began with the New York marathon. Manufacturers of sports shoes and the drink and nutritional supplement industries spotted a growing market.
One drink in particular was quick to capitalise on the burgeoning market. Robert Cade, a renal physician from the University of Florida, had produced a sports drink in the 1960s that contained water, sodium, sugar, and monopotassium phosphate with a dash of lemon. Gatorade—named after the American Football team, the Gators, that it was developed to help—could prevent and cure dehydration, heat stroke, and muscle cramps, and improve performance, it was claimed.
The first experimental batch of the sports drink cost $43 (£28; €35) to produce but has spawned an industry with sales of around £260m a year in the UK alone—and consumption is increasing steadily. “The buzz around sports and energy drinks is here to stay. This has remained the fastest growing sector in the UK soft drinks market,” an industry report suggests. In the US the market is even bigger. In 2009, forecasters, Mintel, valued it at $1.6bn, and the market is projected to reach $2bn by 2016.
The rapid rise in consumption is hardly surprising—sports drinks have the might of multinationals behind them. PepsiCo bought Gatorade in 2001 and both Coca-Cola and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) make sports drinks—Powerade and Lucozade respectively. The companies are a partner and service provider to the London 2012 Olympics. The key behind the rise in consumption of sports drinks lies in the coupling of science with marketing. What started life as a mixture of simple kitchen foodstuffs has become an “essential piece of sporting equipment.”
Commentary: role of hydration in health and exercise.
The Evidence Underpinning Sports Performance Products: a Systematic Assessment.
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