Misleading advertising?

With fall coming, you’ve decided to sign up for a new sports activity or to join a running club – well done! In order to improve their performance, many amateur and professional athletes are tempted to use products advertised as having amazing, “scientifically proven” benefits. But how solid is this evidence?

With fall coming, you’ve decided to sign up for a new sports activity or to join a running club – well done! In order to improve their performance, many amateur and professional athletes are tempted to use products advertised as having amazing, “scientifically proven” benefits. But how solid is this evidence?

To get a better idea, researchers reviewed ads for sports drinks, dietary supplements, footwear, clothing and devices like wrist bands and compression stockings published in more than 100 general-interest and fitness magazines in the United States and Britain. The researchers examined the studies that were referred to in the ads and evaluated the quality of the research.

The team identified 615 ads. After excluding duplicates, books without clinical studies, studies not performed on humans, and surveys and articles without data, they were left with 74 studies. Among those, only three were deemed of good quality, but none of these tested a particular product or intervention and none reported any significant difference between interventions.

This research shows that an overwhelming majority of claims regarding sports products are not supported by quality scientific data. For example, one manufacturer of protein drinks and pills supported its advertising claims with a study on rat metabolism published in 1930.

If you’re thinking of buying an expensive product to enhance your athletic performance, be skeptical of any “scientific” claims made by the manufacturer. Remember also that the needs of athletes who train several hours a day are different from those of individuals who only do a few hours of exercise per week.

In terms of diet, nothing compares to a balanced diet that meets your actual needs. And when it comes to clothing, footwear and other fitness devices, before making a purchase, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” You don’t need to follow the latest trend to get a good workout!

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