Just when you thought that you heard it all, the FTC announced
yesterday that it settled with marketers of caffeine-infused “shapewear” over unsubstantiated weight loss claims. According to the FTC, marketers urged consumers to wear a fabric that was allegedly infused with, among other things, caffeine for metabolizing fat. The caffeine was supposed to dehydrate fat cells, making the wearer appear slimmer and firmer. Claims like “[t]ake up to 2” off hips,” “[i]nstant trimming when you wear them,” and “works with your body to eliminate cellulite” came under attack by the Commission.
The FTC was critical of the studies that had been offered as alleged substantiation. Besides being uncontrolled and unblinded, the studies revealed average reported hip reductions of less than of fractions of an inch. Outlier results were not persuasive. In the end, the companies entered into proposed Consent Orders requiring over $1.5 million to be refunded to consumers.
Once again, companies have been pursued when the Commission felt that they distorted results and made outlandish claims. Consumers continue to search for quick fixes for weight loss and the FTC continues to hold companies accountable. This sector has been a priority for the Commission for years due to the inherent health-related concerns associated with specious weight loss claims. Any company operating in this domain should err on the side of caution in its advertising.