“Now you can get rock hard abs with no sweat”
“Lose 4 Inches in 30 Days Guaranteed”
“30% More Effective Than Normal Exercise”
“10 Minutes = 600 Sit-Ups”
These were some of the claims falsely made by three widely advertised electronic abdominal exercise belts – AB Energizer, AbTronic, and Fast Abs.
In May 2002, the Federal Trade Commissions filed complaints against marketers of these 3 abdominal exercise belts.
In 2003, the FTC filed a complaint against Telebrands Corporation, TV Savings LLC, and their owner, Ajit Khubani, for unfair or deceptive acts or practices and false advertising on Ab Force belt.
The FTC’s complaints alleged that the advertisements for these ab devices falsely represent that:
- The ab devices cause fat loss and inch loss;
- The ab devices will give users well-defined abdominal muscles (e.g., “rock hard,” “six pack” or “washboard” abs); and
- Use of the ab devices is equivalent to (and, for AbTronic and Fast Abs, superior to) conventional abdominal exercises, such as sit-ups or crunches and is an effective alternative to regular exercise.
The FTC complaints further alleged that the advertising for all these devices falsely claimed that the devices are safe for all users and failed to disclose, or failed to disclose adequately, warnings about health hazards for some people.d According to the FDA and leading texts on electronic muscle stimulation (EMS) therapy, EMS devices should not be used by persons with certain conditions, including implanted pacemakers or other implanted metallic or electronic devices, swollen or inflamed areas (such as phlebitis), or cancerous lesions. Additionally, safety of EMS during pregnancy has not been established.
Fast Abs case: In July 2003, the FTC announced a settlement of over $5 million resolving the Fast Abs litigation.
Ab Tronic case: The Commission announced that the U.S. district court in Nevada granted the FTC’s motion for partial summary judgment against five of the seven Ab Tronic defendants, holding them liable for $83 million in redress.
Ab Energizer case: In April 2005, the FTC asked the court to order Ab Energizer marketers and certain retailers to pay $1.4 million for customer redress.
Ab Force case: In In August 2007, the FTC asked the court to order marketers of Ab Force belts to return money to customers who bought the belts.
“For years, marketers of diet and exercise products have been preying on overweight, out-of-shape consumers by hawking false hope in a pill, false hope in a bottle, and, now, in a belt,” said FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris. “Unfortunately, there are no magic pills, potions, or pulsators for losing weight and getting into shape. The only winning combination is changing your diet and exercise.”
Well done to the FTC for stopping these fraudulent business practices! However, these are just some of the many bogus and misleading weight loss claims and offers in the marketplace.
How do you identify false claims or prevent yourself from being duped?
Educate yourself about the fat loss truths and use your scepticism. If anything sounds too good to be true, it probably is.