Sports supplements used to be sold only in specialist stores and gyms, but it’s not like this anymore; we can now buy in supermarkets too. This may be convenient for athletes, but does this pose a public health risk?
According to statistics presented by market analyst IRI, supermarket sales of sports nutrition products have increased by 12.8% to £143.5m, which is up 20.2% in the past year.
For individuals who exercise regularly, having the possibility to buy nutrition products at supermarkets is convenient. There aren’t so many specialist stores, and not everybody goes to the gym. But what if these products end up in the wrong hands?
Not everybody understands sports nutrition. Besides, lost of people are easily seduced by sexy marketing. Carefully and cleverly created advertising campaigns sometimes mislead consumers into believing certain products will help them drop pounds or boost their energy.
For example, is a protein bar a healthy alternative to a normal sugary snack? Protein bars are designed for people who are training hard and need protein and carbs. If you consume these bars as a snack and aren’t exercising hard enough, there’s a high chance you are adding additional sugar and calories to your diet.
A 55g bar may contain 20g of carbs, 18g of sugar and 3.3g of saturated fat. To make a comparison, a 28g Bounty bar contains 16.6g of carbs, 13.6g of sugar and 6.1g of saturated fat. As you can see, the Bounty bar is smaller, but it is located within the sweet aisle, not among the perceived ‘healthy’ sports nutrition section.
Sports supplements can be useful for fueling exercise and recovery, but the people who don’t exercise don’t need these products. The unwary consumer could be taking in more calories than they need, in the misguided belief there will be some added benefit.