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Sugar-laden sports drinks 'cancel out exercise

Sports drinks can contain so many calories that consuming them often cancels out the benefit of exercising, say medics.
The vast majority should stick to drinking water instead, say Oxford University researchers who put hundreds of marketing claims about sports products to the test.

A 380ml bottle of Lucozade Energy contains 266 calories - virtually the same as that in a Mars bar (260 calories) - which would take about half an hour of jogging to burn off.

Dr Matthew Thompson, from the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, said drinking such products "could completely counteract exercising more, playing football more, going to the gym more” in terms of weight loss.

Other products with artificial sweeteners do contain less: Lucozade Body Fuel (500ml), for instance, contains 135 calories.

Dr Thompson and colleagues investigated 431 marketing claims of performance enhancement, for 104 sports products including sports drinks, protein shakes and trainers.

Many firms provided no evidence for their claims although GlaxoSmithKline provided 174 for Lucozade.

However, writing in the British Medical Journal, the Oxford team said they could only find three studies in total that were high quality with a low risk of bias.

Sports drinks were often marketed on the claim that they improved endurance, but the team said even rigorous studies, showing this, were of limited relevance to most people because the tests were on elite athletes.

The matter is explored tonight (Thursday) in Panorama: The Truth About Sports Products, on BBC One.

A spokesman from the British Soft Drinks Association said: " Sports drinks carry nutritional information on the label, including the calorie content. By helping people participating in sport to perform better and to recover more quickly, sports drinks can encourage people to exercise more."

He added: "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."
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