Debate: Do performance-enhancing products actually work?

If you lace up the latest high-tech shoes and fuel for a workout with a ‘sports’ drink in hopes of


If you lace up the latest high-tech shoes and fuel for a workout with a ‘sports’ drink in hopes of improving your performance, you may want to re-think your exercise strategy.

A new study from Oxford University and the British Medical Journal shows there is little evidence to support the claims made by companies selling performance-enhancing products.

The comprehensive study assessed claims made by sports product companies, and looked at a variety of factors to debunk the common belief that these products contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Researchers studied the evidence behind 431 performance-enhancing advertisements for 104 different sports products including sports drinks, protein shakes and running shoes.

Only 2.7 percent of the studies the team was able to assess were judged to be of high quality and at low risk of bias.

"There is a striking lack of evidence to support the vast majority of sports-related products that make claims related to enhanced performance or recovery, including drinks, supplements or footwear," the study’s researchers said.

They also mentioned concern about sugary drinks‘ contribution to obesity’which previous studies have also shown.

‘Sweeteners added to sports beverages and juice drinks are particularly troubling because many people think those drinks are healthful,’ said authors of a 2006 study from Harvard University.

Can we really blame people for believing they’re healthy when they’re constantly promoted that way, though?

‘Endorsement by elite athletes and claims of hydration benefits have meant that sports drinks have been able to shrug off any unhealthy associations,’ the Oxford study’s authors wrote.

Given the depth of this study, maybe those widely held beliefs will begin to change.

What do you think? Do you believe performance-enhancing products actually work? Do you usually use them? Will you still use them after reading this study?

-Katharine Watts, Associate Web Editor

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