Sports drink dangers

Millions are putting their health at risk by slurping on sports drinks in the office, a study claims.

The energy-boosting drinks are formulated for people doing high-impact exercise.

A 500ml bottle contains around 150 calories, which takes an average adult 20 minutes to burn via a brisk jog.

Most also contain high levels of caffeine that have been linked to both heart problems and behavioural disorders.

The only people who should drink the isotonic drinks are ‘active individuals performing endurance exercise,’ according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Yet a survey by The National Hydration Council found 11million adults in the UK – including a quarter of men – have them at their desks.

One in five of the 2,000 people questioned for the survey admitted they had the drinks when feeling ‘tired’, while 18 per cent used them as a hangover cure.

Sports drinks
Sports drinks

In 2010 Britons spent £260million on 160million litres of sports drinks.

Yet the study also revealed nearly 80 per cent of respondents forget to drink vital liquids before taking part in exercise.

A further 60 per cent don’t remember to consider their hydration levels at all after exercise and almost 30 per cent aren’t packing water in their sports bag.

When asked what was most essential for exercise, ‘water’ sat at the bottom of the priority list ranked below ‘nice sportswear’ and ‘specialist trainers’.

Professor of Exercise and Obesity at Leeds Metropolitan University, Dr Paul Gately, said: ‘The consumption levels and situations in which people are consuming these sports drinks are worrying.

‘These products are designed for highly-active sportspeople undertaking regular high-intensity training and performance exercise lasting for more than 45 minutes.

‘What’s even more concerning is that this insight is paired with people not drinking enough water or at the right times.’

Is BMI a valid measurement of obesity ?

The obesity epidemic could be far worse than previously realised because of serious flaws in the way body fat is measured, according to a study.

Researchers said the Body Mass Index – the formula usually used to determine fat – drastically underestimated how many people should regard themselves as unhealthily overweight or obese.

More than a third of adults in the U.S. are considered obese.

But the New York study concluded that 39 per cent of Americans were being classified as overweight on the basis of their BMI when they were actually obese.

The study’s authors, Dr Eric Braverman, of Weill Cornell Medical School, and Dr Nirav Shah, the New York state health commissioner, calculated the BMI – weight in kg divided by height in metres squared – of nearly 1,400 adult patients at a private health clinic.

They then compared the results with those of a more sophisticated measurement, a blood test combined with a Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scan, which measures a person’s body fat, muscle mass and bone density.

The comparison found BMI wrongly classified half of the women, and one in four men.

While only 26 per cent of the patients were classed as obese according to BMI, 65 per cent of them fell into that category when measured with the DXA scan. Dr Braverman said BMI should be called the ‘baloney mass index’ because it was so inaccurate.


‘The Body Mass Index is an insensitive measure of obesity, prone to under-diagnosis,’ he said.

The study found BMI was especially prone to underestimating obesity in women.

In addition, the likelihood of error increased as they got older.

Fifty-nine per cent more women aged 70 or over were classified as obese when measured with a DXA scan than their BMI suggested.

Researchers said this was because women lost more muscle to fat than men as they age.

As BMI does not distinguish between muscle and fat, it doesn’t pick up on the change.

‘BMI does not tell you how much fat you have,’ Dr Braverman added.

n DEATHS from womb cancer have increased by 20 per cent over the past decade, driven by rising obesity, experts warn.

The death rate in the UK from womb cancer has risen from 3.1 to 3.7 per 100,000 since the mid-1990s.

This means more than 1,900 women are dying from the disease each year, compared with fewer than 1,500 at the turn of the millennium, the charity Cancer Research UK said.

Reporting in the open access journal PLoS ONE researchers recognised that BMI was a convenient, low cost and safe way of calculating a person’s weight. It is the most widely used way to measure weight in the U.S and UK.

However, the authors said the outdated mathematical equation needed to evolve to correctly evaluate body fat.

‘These estimates are fundamental to U.S. policy addressing the epidemic of obesity and are central to designing interventions aimed at curbing its growth,’ the authors said, ‘yet the [current policies] may be flawed because they are based on the BMI.’

The authors said levels of leptin, a hormone protein, are strongly correlated to body fat.

They suggested that if DXA was deemed to expensive that leptin levels could be used alongside BMI to create a more accurate picture of obesity.