The ACSM Let Gatorade Distort Science


Gatorade and Coca-Cola are the American College of Sports Medicine’s “official corporate partners.” It is strange that the world’s top sugar-water manufacturers would sponsor a health and fitness company, but the story doesn’t end there. Big Soda’s dollars corrupted the ACSM’s hydration science. You can read the whole story in Tim Noakes’ excellent book “Waterlogged.”

But Gatorade did not stop at funding the American College of Sports Medicine’s corrupted hydration science – they distorted and misrepresented the ACSM’s guidelines as well. In their article, “Lobbyists for the sports drink industry,” Noakes and Dale Speedy note that:

“as recently as January/February 2002 (ie, 11 years after EAH was proved to be due to overdrinking), the GSSI (Gatorade Sports Science Institute) placed an advertisement in the New York Runner magazine, and presumably elsewhere, with the banner statement: ‘Research shows your body needs at least 40 oz. of fluid every hour (ie, 1200 ml per hour) or your performance could suffer’. This conclusion is allegedly based on the results of ‘thousands of tests’ conducted by the ‘scientists of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute’ who have ‘studied it for over 15 years in research facilities all across the country’.”

The New York Runner ad also ran in the North West Runner magazine, and presumably elsewhere:…confuse2.shtml

Contrary to Gatorade’s distortion, the 1996 ACSM recommendations used 1.2 L/hour as a maximum, not a minimum value, with the caveat that a runner should only drink as much as he could tolerate. The 1996 recommendations were excessive, and the 2007 ACSM recommendations implicitly recognize that. Yet Gatorade was still not satisfied with how much hydration the 1996 guidelines recommended.

If the ACSM objected to their platinum sponsor’s misrepresentation of their guidelines, I’ve found no record of it. An ethical scientific body would have spoken up.

The need to remove Gatorade’s pernicious influence from exercise science could not be clearer. Perhaps the ACSM, minus Gatorade, is salvageable. Perhaps.

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about CrossFit exposing Gatoraded exercise science, check out the discussion board thread Greg Glassman started:

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