Scaffter Thoughts 10-14-12

Unproven claims of health fitness products – New York Times

On July 23, 2012, The New York Times reported on a recent survey that was done on the performance-enhancing claims made for dozens of fitness products.  In this survey, the researchers found not a single claim of performance-enhancement that could be supported by rigorous scientific research. Moreover, the few fitness products that have been thoroughly evaluated appear to have no effect on strength, endurance, speed or reduced muscle fatigue.

Highlights from the article:
A professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who was not involved in this study expressed some doubts about the methods used by the authors of the study because the authors did not conduct a systematic review for every topic, and thus noted that the authors’ conclusions, that there is no evidence to support the claims of the fitness products, could be too strong. There may be evidence out there supporting the companies’ claims, however, she did go on to say that she suspects that the claims of the fitness product manufacturers are stronger than they should be and that there is not a lot data backing them up.

Another expert, an assistant professor of health policy and management at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, was impressed with the authors’ diligence and gave them a lot credit for their work on this survey.

The authors themselves concede that given more time, some of the companies may have been able to provide more scientifically-based references, but the bottom line is that there appears to be no substantial evidence to support the claims of the benefits that fitness products are said to bestow.

Dr. Eric B. Bass, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins who was not involved in the study said, “As an amateur athlete I realize how powerful that urge is to want to take something that promises to help improve your performance without having to practice harder. But I’m always amazed at how many products are available, and as someone who does evidence-based medicine, I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of the benefits they provide.”

To read the original article in full see: