During this last decade there has been a huge surge in the demand for bodybuilding supplements in the country.
However, a study by Assocham and business management consultant RNCOS indicates that as much as 60-70 per cent of the dietary supplement being peddled across India is counterfeit.
Not only are the manufacturers of these fake supplements duping their customers, but using various unapproved and potentially harmful chemicals in their fake offerings and putting the youngsters of our nation in harm's way.
Another study found that nearly 80 percent of the youth who are into bodybuilding consume one or the other form of dietary supplement.
Assocham estimates that the market for dietary supplements is set to double from the current (Dollar) 2 billion to (Dollar) 4 billion by 2020.
Why? Well, most Indian diets are vegetarian-heavy and lack the fast-acting proteins necessary for quick muscle recovery.
Health supplements bridge this gap which, in turn, aids in muscle growth.
However, most of the high-quality health supplement brands available in the market today are imported which is on the expensive side (taxes, customs and overheads on imports) especially for young adults who form a sizeable chunk of the target market which is also completely clueless on how health supplements work thus making the perfect market for fake products.
How to identify fake supplements
One has to really look closely to figure out whether or not the supplement in question is a fake or not.
Here are a few ways to tell the genuine ones from the fake:
* Check the hologram: One of the best ways to tell a fake product from the genuine one is to look for the brand's hologram.
Because most of the fake supplements in India are made in extremely low-quality facilities, the technology to properly replicate the hologram doesn't exist
* Check the barcode: Most smartphones today support apps that can read barcodes and QR codes.
Just do a quick scan; the scan of an original brand should ideally lead you to its website
* Check the packaging: This can be a bit tricky.
Watch out for spelling mistakes, bizarre fonts, wrong logos and even wrong nutritional information
* Check the seal: If the seal of the product looks weird or of bad quality, chances are that it has been tampered with
* Dissolve a spoonful in water: Add a spoonful of the supplement to water at room temperature and stir for a few seconds.
The original supplement will dissolve easily whereas the fake products usually leave behind clumps of the powder as residue in the glass
* Look for FSSAI approval on the packaging: The Food Safety and Standards Association of India or FSSAI is the regulatory body responsible for health supplements
India has a long way to go as far as the health and fitness of its citizens is concerned.
The only way to achieve this is by empowering the youth with the right knowledge so that they really understand the science behind it.
A boost to the local manufacturers under the 'Make In India' initiative will give the youth access to high-quality supplements at affordable prices.
Only when the youth start making informed choices will the black market of fake supplements die a well-deserved death.
(Amaresh Ojha is CEO (and) Founder of Gymik.com)