There is more oxygen in a breath of fresh air than in a litre of most 'hyperoxygenated' bottled waters, according to professor Claude Piantadosi, in his review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Bottled waters containing up to 40 times the oxygen in regular water have emerged as a potentially important niche in the soft drinks sector in recent years, amid theories that they can provide extra energy and speed recovery after exercise.
Supplementary oxygen is already used in medicine to aid respiration, and some studies have shown it improves the body's performance during exercise.
Piantadosi, of Duke University in the US, said evidence from several studies suggested only miniscule amounts of oxygen can be dissolved in drinking water compared with that required for exercise, and that no significant amount of oxygen was absorbed via the intestine.
One study on 12 people found oxygenated water did not change blood oxygen levels any more than ordinary bottled water.
"The only good thing I can say is that they won't hurt anything except your pocketbook. Put this idea in the waste bin with Ponce de Leon's fountain of youth," Piantadosi told BeverageDaily.com.
The high profile review is another blow to producers of hyperoxygenated bottled water. The product remains a premium niche, but has experienced fast growth in recent years.
"You are always going to get skeptics," said Richard Pechey, sales manager for the OGO oxygenated water brand. He said OGO's extra oxygen content, 35 times that found in regular water, enhanced the product but that "we would not begin to make any medical claims because we haven't done that kind of research".
OGO, based in the Netherlands, recently signed its first distribution deal in the US, claiming the "high infusion of oxygen means an extra boost of energy-giving O2".
The drink, in a sleek bottle shaped like an air bubble, has performed well as a luxury product in several markets, including France, Australia and the UK. It is made from natural spring water.
Pechey said the oxygen content of OGO was "remarkably high" and that there was a lot of anecdotal and documentary evidence suggesting the water improved consumers' general sense of well-being.
He admitted the effects could be partly psychological for some consumers, but added "if that can make you feel or perform better then that's a pretty good thing".