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Wake up and smell the cellulite! - David Wardell

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the Advertising Standards Authority who were rubbishing the anti-radiation protective claims of Wireless Armour and their underpants - (It's Pants says advertising watchdog - August 15th) - claims so persuasive that even Sir Richard Branson was taken in. Step forward our friends 'across the pond' - the Federal Trade Commission - who have fined two companies for making ludicrous claims about their so-called fat-busting underwear.

“The FTC’s complaint … alleges the company deceptively advertised, marketed, and sold women’s undergarments infused with micro-encapsulated caffeine, retinol, and other ingredients… the company made claims that wearing its shapewear would eliminate or substantially reduce cellulite; reduce the wearer’s hip measurements by up to two inches and their thigh measurements by one inch; and reduce thigh and hip measurements “without any effort.”

It is true that caffeine is absorbed by the skin although it is extremely unlikely to have any slimming effect - it certainly won't 'target' fat cells. Also, by its very nature, underwear is frequently washed. Claims were made that the pants would still be effective after 100 washes. Ludicrous - a highly soluble substance in soap and water - I don't think so! Two companies, Norm Thompson Outfitters and Wacoal America, have been fined over $1.5m which sounds a lot until you factor-in that some of these 'shapeware' retailed for over $80 each.

If it sounds too good to be true... A couple of years ago, Reebok were forced to refund £16m ($25m) to customers who believed claims that their EasyTone shoes would firm buttocks and thighs; although they could not produce any evidence to support these claims.

A word to the wise. If you are ever lucky (or unlucky?) enough to have me assess or judge this type of invention, make sure that you can substantiate your claims. Otherwise I'll either think you are a nut-job, peddling 'snake-oil', or, at worst, a crook!

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