The Consumerist reports that the United States Federal Trade Commission has ordered Reebok to give back over $25 million in refunds to buyers of its EasyTone shoes because of misleading advertising.
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The article quotes the FTC:
"Reebok made unsupported claims in advertisements that walking in its EasyTone shoes and running in its RunTone running shoes strengthen and tone key leg and buttock (gluteus maximus) muscles more than regular shoes. The FTC's complaint also alleges that Reebok falsely claimed that walking in EasyTone footwear had been proven to lead to 28 percent more strength and tone in the buttock muscles, 11 percent more strength and tone in the hamstring muscles, and 11 percent more strength and tone in the calf muscles than regular walking shoes."
In addition to the refunds, Reebok is barred from the following:
• making claims that toning shoes and other toning apparel are effective in strengthening muscles, or that using the footwear will result in a specific percentage or amount of muscle toning or strengthening, unless the claims are true and backed by scientific evidence;
• making any health or fitness-related efficacy claims for toning shoes and other toning apparel unless the claims are true and backed by scientific evidence; and
• misrepresenting any tests, studies, or research results regarding toning shoes and other toning apparel
I am always skeptical about anything claiming to make it easier to shape up and lose weight. The promises of these shoes, and all similar brands, are simply too good to be true.
Of course, this won't stop deceptive health and fitness marketing. They'll just go back to making their promises more vague, and will distract us with T&A and cute babies and stuff. As always.
(Updated with video link from Adweek.)