Sports drinks are a $7-billion worldwide industry. 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 BMJ, the British medical journal.
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.
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.