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"The Truth about Sports Products" BBC Panorama Programme


The BBC Panorama programme broadcast on Thursday 19th July 2012 called "The Truth about Sports Products" may well be an 'eye opener' for many.  I thought it was a brilliant programme and I drew the following conclusions that we must:


  • encourage good scientific research in order to produce good scientific evidence,
  • encourage policymakers that Sports Science and Medicine should be funded by its own special funding stream, and
  • above all, let's use our common sense and not be swayed by clever marketing: eat a healthy diet, exercise sensibly and listen to our bodies, drinking water as and when our bodies say we're thirsty.


I have to confess I was surprised to learn that over-drinking of water, in rare instances, can be fatal.  Last year 16 people died through over-drinking and a further 1600 became critically ill.


The BMJ paper which underpins this programme also makes interesting reading.


Fortunately, with new regulations, many claims made about sports products will have to be removed by the beginning of 2013 because their claims have not been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).  Out of 100 claims submitted to EFSA, they have only approved 6 and these are in relation to caffeine and creatinine.


Graeme Obree, a racing cyclist, otherwise known as "The Flying Scotsman" twice broke the world hour record, in July 1993 and April 1994, and was the individual pursuit world champion in 1993 and 1995.  In the Panorama programme he states that his energy food during this time was bread and jam, and for rehydration, he drank water.  He also mentioned that before he goes out training he leaves out some bread, tinned sardines and broccoli.  On his return the bread goes in the toaster, the sardines are spread on the toast and the broccoli is cooked in the microwave.  This is his recipe for post training recovery: simple, effective and cheap!


So what power food and drink will our Olympians be taking and will it help them to win?


Author: Greer Deal, Director of Global Regulatory Services