Shortcut Nation

From the September 29th, 2011 Wall Street Journal:

Reebok International Ltd., a unit of Adidas AG, agreed to pay $25 million in customer refunds to settle charges of false advertising brought by the FTC over the shoemaker’s claim that its “toning shoes” could work better than normal footwear to whip muscles into shape.

Its TV commercials featured women with shapely legs prancing around in the shoes while doing everyday activities such as walking, vacuuming, browsing a bookshelf and cooking.

Such shoes were one of the footwear industry’s smash hits, generating more than $1 billion in revenue last year though sales have slowed this year.

“The FTC wants national advertisers to understand that they must exercise some responsibility and ensure that their claims for fitness gear are supported by sound science,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection.

Sound science?! Does that mean Rick Perry can’t lace up his toners and run for the Republican presidential nomination?

Amazingly, the FTC didn’t find proof for Reebok’s claims.

Mary Lee Wagner of Fairfax, Va., bought into the craze four years ago, paying $230 for a pair of sneakers. The 58-year-old wore the shoes religiously for six months with hopes of shaping up her thighs. “There was no difference whatsoever,” she says.

She decided to give toning shoes another try after they went mainstream, reasoning that bigger companies had figured out a way to develop a more effective shoe. Two years ago, she bought a pair of Skechers Shape-ups for $75. After three months of use, she switched back to her $35 Ryka walking shoes. 

And dig this. Different article, same paper, same day. Can’t make this stuff up:

Scented products, including crystals you sprinkle on your food and products you inhale before eating, can trigger your body to think it’s full, aiding weight loss, say companies who sell the products. Nutritionists and doctors who specialize in weight loss say the research conducted so far isn’t convincing.

SlimScents LLC of Marlton, N.J., sells a $50 set of three pen-shaped inhalers, which it says last four to six weeks before losing their scent. Glacier Point Solutions Inc., of Long Beach, Calif., sells an $18 package of three Happy Scent jars—peppermint, banana and green apple—which it says last a year. Both products are designed to be sniffed five minutes before eating.

Another method is crystals you sprinkle on your food before eating. A six-month “starter kit” of Sensa crystals, from Intelligent Beauty LLC, of El Segundo, Calif., costs $289. The kit includes a new set of two types of crystals—one for sweet and one for other food—each month. On its website, Intelligent Beauty says the crystals, which it calls tastants, are designed to “trigger your ‘I feel full’ signal.”

The idea that scent can help you lose weight is “intriguing,” says Louis J. Aronne director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. But the research done so far is “not adequate” to show the currently marketed products work, he says.

Better name would be Louis J. Killjoy.

Intelligent Beauty says participants lost an average 30.5 pounds over six months in a 1,436-person study conducted by Alan Hirsch, a scientist it describes as the “founder” of its weight-loss system. However, Intelligent Beauty—which puts Dr. Hirsch’s photo on its Sensa packages—declined to answer questions about the study or whether Dr. Hirsch is on staff at the company, whether he has an ownership stake or whether he receives financial compensation from sale of the product. Intelligent Beauty initially set up a phone interview with Dr. Hirsch and then cancelled it, citing an “urgent matter.” Dr. Hirsch, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, didn’t return a call seeking comment.

James O. Hill, co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry, a database of more than 6,000 people who have lost an average of 70 pounds and kept it off for six years, says there is no quick fix for people who successfully lose weight.

No. Quick. Fix. Damn you, James O. Hill.

Registrants exercise a lot and are “conscious of every morsel they put in their mouths,” says Dr. Hill, who is executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado in Denver.

That doesn’t sound like much fun.

One thought on “Shortcut Nation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s