Does it sound believable that wearing undergarments infused with caffeine would help people lose weight? While it may sound ridiculous to many, two companies actually marketed such products, and someone out there in consumer land bought them.
The Federal Trade Commission charged that Norm Thompson Outfitters Inc. and Wacoal America made false claims that their women’s “shapewear” undergarments would help people lose weight. Now the companies have been ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in consumer refunds.
The FTC’s complaint against Norm Thompson Outfitters alleges the company deceptively advertised, marketed, and sold women’s undergarments infused with microencapsulated caffeine, retinol, and other ingredients, claiming the “shapewear” would slim and reshape the wearer’s body and reduce cellulite. The products, made with Lytess brand fabrics, were sold via mail order and on the company’s Norm Thompson Outfitters, Sahalie, Body Solutions, and Body*Belle websites. Specifically, the FTC alleges that 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.” The complaint alleges that these claims are not true or substantiated by scientific evidence, and therefore violate the FTC Act.
The complaint against Wacoal contains similar allegations. It charges that the company’s iPants supposedly slimmed the body and reduced cellulite. Specifically, the company made false and unsubstantiated claims that wearing iPants would: substantially reduce cellulite; cause a substantial reduction in the wearer’s thigh measurements; and destroy fat cells, resulting in substantial slimming. The complaint alleges that these claims are not true or substantiated by scientific evidence, and therefore also violate the FTC Act.
The companies are barred from claiming that any garment that contains any drug or cosmetic causes substantial weight or fat loss or a substantial reduction in body size. In addition, the companies are prohibited from making claims that any drug or cosmetic reduces or eliminates cellulite or reduces body fat, unless they are not misleading and can be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.