Amway's Perfect Water:
Tip Test and Oxygenation Debunked

perfect_water.JPG (6183 bytes)I was intrigued by the videos of the Amway distributor's casual, unscientific and comical bug_video.gif (383 bytes) tests on stage in the public.  Even the IBOAi Chairman got in to the comical actbug_video.gif (383 bytes)  There is no basis to prove that the water somehow magically and instantaneously improved flexibility.  I personally took an interest in the "touch your fingers on the floor" flexibility test.   I am an avid swimmer and the "touch the floor" is usually not a big deal for me.   I get my hands almost flat the first time, and the second time I can stretch a little more.  I spoke with a physical therapist and she confirmed that the amount of stretch will increase with repetitions.   The maximum extension will be usually reached by the fourth repetition.  

Flexibility: The fact that the "most" flexibility is shown after drinking the Amway miracle water, always coincides with the fact that body has always been preconditioned by the one or two previous stretches.    Try doing the stretches for yourself.   The first stretch is always the hardest.   The second stretch is a bit easier.   After a certain number of repetitions the improvement seen will become less and less, but also more than the very first time.  I would not hesitate to guess that the most pronounced improvement in flexibility comes with the second try, which conveniently coincides with the dispensing of Amway's miracle water. 

Tip Test:  The tip test is a simple matter of statics (physics of stationary objects) and can be explained mathematically. 

teip_test_free_body_diagram_A.GIF (8087 bytes) To see when the person tips we need to calculate the moments around the foot, point "a" (Pa).   The resisting torque from your body mass in the ccw direction,  is  equal to your weight multiplied by the distance from the center of your body to your foot Tbm = (W x Lf).   My feet together measured about 9" (Lf = 4.5").  So assuming my body is rigid, one would need to apply a torque greater than 720 (160 x 4.5) in-lbs to tip me to one side. 

Case A:  Assuming the Amway distributor applies the load straight down it will generate a clockwise (cw) torque around Pa of TDist. = F x Lb .    For me Lb is about 5".  The equation for equilibrium around point "a" is

W x Lf = F x Lb   

A force of (720/5) or 144 lbs would be needed to tip me assuming I kept my body rigid.  F = W x Lf/Lb



teip_test_free_body_diagram_B.GIF (10624 bytes)Case B:  In the case A, we assumed the force was applied straight down.  Let's see how sensitive the equations are when applying the forces from various directions.   Applying the force from an angle introduces a new torque component, which has  a lever of length Lhf  (hand to foot measurement).  For me this is about 24 inches.   Depending upon the angle of the applied load this could create a torque component that either helps tip you (case B), or helps support you (case C).    This new component is F x Lhf x sinŲ.  




For equilibrium the new formula for balance is

W x Lf = F x Lb cosŲ + F x Lhf x sinŲ

The force required to tip is then F = W x Lf /(Lb cosŲ + Lhf x sinŲ)

Assume the angle (Ų) is 45 degrees.

160 x 4.5 /(5 x .707 + 24 x .707) = 35 lbs

If the angle (Ų) were 12 degrees, away from the test person, then one only needs about 75 pounds force to tip the person.

You can see that the direction of the applied load has a huge influence due to the longer lever (Lhf foot to the hand).  The force to tip has been reduced by about 75% for an angle of 45 degrees, since the load is applied with a much longer lever.

teip_test_free_body_diagram_c.GIF (10634 bytes)Case C: In this case, the horizontal component of the applied load creates a ccw torque and will help prevent tipping. 

W x Lf + F x Lhf x sinŲ   = F x Lb cosŲ

  At what angle do the two counter acting torques from the Amway distributor  balance each other?

Lhf  sinŲ  = Lb cosŲ

Lhf/Lb = cosŲ/sinŲ

5/24 = tanŲ

Ų = 12 Degrees

Once the angle is greater than 12 degrees from vertical into the test person, you will not be able to tip them.  In fact you can add more and more force and it will not make any difference.   Watch the videos of the Amway distributor almost jumping on the person.  You can clearly see they are directing the force into the person.   The person of course has the impression that the load is very high, but that high load at an angle also keeps them from tipping.  The perfect water did not help the person become stronger, the distributor just shifted the angle of the load and the long lever from the foot to the hand saves the day.

The Amway distributors are demonstrating in their open meetings a complete lack of knowledge of scientific testing.  It is almost impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions from anecdotal reports; there are simply too difficult to verify in sufficient detail, and even if this were possible, there are too many uncontrolled variables related to both the individual and the person doing the tip test.  There is no doubt effects from  the placebo effect.  This is why double-blind studies are considered essential for establishing the efficacy of a medical treatment, or in this case the miraculous strength, flexibility and balance improvement Amway distributors claim. 

Unless you have gills, it's just an expensive burp!

Oxygenated Water is offered at hundreds of Web sites. I highly recommend it if you happen to be a fish, but if you have lungs that breathe air, then forget about it! All  water that has been exposed to the air is "oxygenated" to a small extent— about 8 milligrams of O2 per liter of water at room temperature— and this can be increased by pressurizing the water with oxygen gas; each additional atmosphere of oxygen pressure pumps an additional 40 mg into each liter. But what happens when you open the bottle? That's right, the extra oxygen goes right back out— but not immediately, so by drinking oxygenated water, you can still take a bit more oxygen into your stomach. But can any oxygen molecules that don't get burped back out actually find their way into your bloodstream through absorption in the stomach or intestine? I very much doubt it; the lungs are exquisitely adapted to this function, while your digestive system is specialized for absorbing other nutrients. Suppose, instead, that you simply breathe in an extra liter of air (much easier to do than drinking a liter of water!) It's an easy chemistry students' calculation to show that you will be inhaling about 146 mg of oxygen in this way. Not all of it will enter your bloodstream, but you can always take an extra breath; it's free!

From:  Oxygen water: Are you being ripped off?

"This is just an advertising gimmick," says Dr. John Itamura, an orthopedic surgeon with a special interest in sports medicine at the University of Southern California. "You get oxygen through your lungs. Your stomach may possibly absorb some of this dissolved oxygen, but the key to good athletics is developing good lungs."

Dr. Howard G. Knuttgen, Ph.D., professor emeritus of kinesiology at Penn State University describes oxygenated water as "a case of pure fraud without a physiologic foundation."

"Very little oxygen can be forced into water under pressure — less than that contained in a single breath," he adds. "Most of the oxygen in the water would escape into the atmosphere when you open the container. Additional oxygen would be absorbed into the cells of intestinal walls. All of this would happen before any oxygen would reach the blood, much less the muscles."

That's what the experts say. But what does the research show?

One of the most recent trials, published as a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that drinking bottled water described as "oxygenated" before exercise does not improve performance [1].

In the study, five brands of bottled water marketed for their high oxygen content were tested for the amount of oxygen per 100 milliliters of water and compared with the amount of oxygen found in tap water.

Water was extracted from each bottle by inserting an airtight syringe into the side or cap of each bottle and pulling out the fluid. Of the five brands tested, the one with the highest oxygen content was used in the exercise phase of the study.

Eleven healthy adults (with an average age of 35 years) exercised on a stationary bicycle on two different days, at least three days apart. Five minutes before performing each exercise test, participants were asked to drink either oxygenated or ordinary water.

Four of the five brands of oxygenated bottled water contained more oxygen than tap water, while the amount of oxygen in one brand was equivalent to that of tap water.

During exercise, there was no difference in any marker of exercise performance when subjects received oxygenated water rather than ordinary water.

A team at the University of Wisconsin has found similar results [3]. The study included 12 college-aged men and women who were assigned to drink either 500-milliliters of super oxygenated water (Aqua Rush) or regular tap water.

During a multi-stage treadmill test, oxygenated water had no measurable effect on any of the variables measured during exercise or recovery.


Some competitive athletes swear they perform better when they drink oxygenated water. And there is research to show that oxygenized water does improve exercise performance.

An unpublished study, conducted in 1997 at Texas Women's University by Dr. John Duncan (and sponsored by oxygenated-water company LifeO2) found that after drinking oxygenated water, subjects ran a five-kilometer time trial faster compared to drinking regular bottled water.

A second study, presented by Dr. Bo Fernhall at the June 2001 conference of the American College of Sports Medicine, shows similar results [2].

Twenty subjects (10 women and 10 men), all of whom were regular exercisers, volunteered for the study. They performed a number of different performance tests on a bike. Before and after each test, they were given either oxygenized or plain water.

Richard Barclay CEO of Oxy-Water (the product used in the study) says their product is different from other oxygenated waters, and prefers to call it "oxygenized" rather than oxygenated.

The only significant difference in the overall group was greater hemoglobin-oxygen saturation at the end of the endurance test with the oxygenized water.

In the highly trained members of the group, time to fatigue during the maximal exercise test was greater with oxygenized compared to distilled water.

This study has only been published in abstract form, and no follow-up trials have been published in any reputable peer-reviewed journal.

Published abstracts are usually presented at scientific conferences, which provide a forum for researchers to present new work to colleagues. They're not, however, subject to the same rigorous peer review process as full journal articles.

Most professional journals are peer reviewed, which means that articles submitted for publication are scrutinized by one or more other scientists to see if the information they provide is accurate.

Because of this, any claims based on published abstracts should be treated with some caution.

Most scientists prefer to rely on the results of a number of well-controlled trials. There is always the possibility that the results were due to chance, or that the original researchers unconsciously or consciously influenced the outcome of the study.

What's more, many supplement companies will pay research groups to study their product. If the results are positive and show that the product works, they’ll use the study in subsequent promotional material, such as magazine adverts or press releases sent to newspapers, TV and radio stations.

If the results of study are negative (meaning that the supplement didn't work) some form of "non-disclosure agreement" signed in advance means that the results will be brushed under the carpet and never published.

The bottom line

There's very little reliable evidence to show that oxygenated (or oxygenized) water has any significant effect on exercise performance, energy levels, or recovery. This water isn't going to hurt you, but there's no reason to believe it's going to help you substantially.

1. Hampson, N.B., Pollock, N.W., & Piantadosi, C.A. (2003). Oxygenated water and athletic performance. Journal of the American Medical Association, 290, 2408-2409
2. Jenkins, A., Moreland, M., Waddell, T.B., & Fernhall, B. (2002). Effect of oxygenized water on percent oxygen saturation and performance during exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33, S167
3. Willmert, N., Porcari, J.P., Foster, C., Doberstein, S., & Brice, G. (2002). The effects of oxygenated water on exercise physiology during incremental exercise and recovery. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 5, 16-21