Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's what plants crave

The following is not a deleted scene from Idiocracy.

PepsiCo has filed a false advertising suit against Coca-Cola Co. over the number of electrolytes in their respective sports drinks.

Check out the claims on the POWERADE site. (And turn your speakers down.)

What's funny is what the legal argument says about the industry in general:

PepsiCo unit Stokely-Van Camp Inc., the maker of Gatorade, alleges the ads falsely claim that Powerade Ion4 sports drink is "the complete sports drink" and Gatorade is "missing two electrolytes" and "incomplete." The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

"There is no evidence, scientific or otherwise, that Powerade Ion functions better than Gatorade as a sports drink," the lawsuit said. "There is no evidence that Powerade Ion will help consumers achieve better hydration, have more energy or get nutrients that will result in improved athletic performance."

The complaint claims there is no evidence the "minute quantities of magnesium and calcium" present in the Powerade drink make it superior to Gatorade.

Let's have a reality check here: the two major ingredients in sports drinks are sugar and salt. Some public health advocates even want them declared junk food, and taken out of schools:

"...a report from the University of California at Berkeley warns that students who drink one 20-ounce sports drink every day for a year may gain about 13 pounds. This is no surprise to some nutritionists, who note that when you look at the ingredients, it's water, high-fructose corn syrup, and salt."

But what about those other electrolytes? According to the sports medicine article on About.com:

Sports drinks can be helpful to athletes who are exercising at a high intensity for 60 minutes or more. Fluids supplying 60 to 100 calories per 8 ounces helps to supply the needed calories required for continuous performance. It's really not necessary to replace losses of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes during exercise since you're unlikely to deplete your body's stores of these minerals during normal training. If, however, you find yourself exercising in extreme conditions over 3 or 5 hours (a marathon, Ironman or ultramarathon, for example) you may likely want to add a complex sports drink with electrolytes.

So back to the case of Pepsi. How did Coke respond?

"We stand behind our product and are prepared to defend the role Powerade plays in hydrating consumers," Coke said in a statement received later on Monday.

All I can get out of the latest chapter of the Pepsi Challenge is that both Pepsi and Coke offer tasty sports drinks that can give you a sugar boost and replace salt and potassium lost in extreme workouts. (They're also good for hangovers.) One contains two more meaningless trace elements than another. Case closed. Pass the Gatorade.

1 comment:

  1. I'll let them have their fun. I'll just stay away from HFCS as usual...