For more information contact:

Sean Selman
Institute Communications and Public Affairs


ATLANTA (August 3, 2001) –
The scientific research behind oxygenated water -- a product growing in popularity throughout the country – leaves much to be desired, according to the latest issue of the Georgia Tech Sports Medicine & Performance Newsletter.

The Georgia Tech Sports Medicine & Performance Newsletter is a monthly publication of the Homer Rice Center for Sports Performance at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Also in this month’s issue:
• Exercise Quotient vs. Orthopedic Limit
• Ankle Injuries, Flexibility
• Menstrual Cycle and Knee Injuries
• Salt Tablets, Preventing Anemia
• Squats, Pitch Count, Pinched Nerves

For subscription information, write to Georgia Tech Sports Medicine & Performance Newsletter, P.O. Box 3000, Denville, NJ, 07834, or call Customer Service at (800) 783-4903. Subscriptions are $34 a year for 12 issues.

According to Jim Brown, Ph.D. and executive editor of the newsletter, a 1997 study conducted at a university in Texas became the basis for one of the latest in commercial sports-performance products. The concept of using oxygenated water – also called oxygenized water -- to enhance athletic performance caught on after the study’s release. However, the study was seriously flawed, Brown writes.

The study’s sample was small (20 men, 5 women), the methods were suspect (no measure of whether the water actually delivered oxygen to the blood), and the premise itself had no scientific basis, according to Brown. "Nevertheless, the author and the manufacturer concluded the ‘oxygen-enhanced sports drink improved athletic performance,’ and off to market they went," he writes.

Howard Knuttgen, Ph.D. and editor-in-chief of the Georgia Tech Sports Medicine & Performance Newsletter, has devoted more than 40 years of research to sports science and sports medicine. He said oxygen or any other gas could be forced into water by pressure. An example of this is the carbon dioxide contained in soft drinks and other carbonated beverages.

"But when the surrounding pressure is reduced -- as with the opening of a soft drink bottle -- the gas in the fluid immediately begins to escape," he said. "If some of the oxygen remains in the solution and follows with the water into the stomach, it will continue to move out of the solution and could result in an expensive burp."

Due to the physiology of the human body, oxygenated water doesn’t offer much more than that, Knuttgen said.

"If any oxygen introduced to the stomach and intestines were to be taken up by the blood, this blood then travels to the right chambers of the heart, and then to the lungs," he said. "The objective of the flow of blood to the lungs is to pick up oxygen from the alveoli for delivery to all of the tissues of the body, including the exercising muscle. Oxygen already in the blood will reduce the oxygen transferred from the alveoli to the blood in the pulmonary capillaries. Therefore, pre-loading blood in the intestines with oxygen makes no physiological sense. If a bus is already full of passengers, it can’t pick up any more."

In short: The transfer of oxygen for use by the muscles does not occur by means of the digestive tract, but rather as a function of the respiratory and circulatory systems. "For the oxygenated water supporters, wrong time, wrong place," Brown said.

For more information on the August 2001 newsletter, contact Editor Jim Brown, (770) 682-1670 or