Buyer Beware Weight Loss Product Claims
By Tom Ryan
Those quick-weight-loss diet books and 10-minute workouts have
transcended to a whole line of simple weight-loss products.
The latest appears
to be a line of calorie-burning underwear for men developed by Japanese apparel
retailer, Uniqlo. Called the ‘Easy Exe’ series,
the design of plastic dots and lines that traces the gluteus maximus and lower
back is said to encourage better posture, which leads to a more efficient walking,
according to Uniqlo’s Japanese online shop.
The underwear mimics many of
the basic principles of toning shoes, currently a hot trend in footwear.
Led by Skechers’ Shape Ups, Reebok’s EasyTone, and FitFlops, the rocker-soled
shoes cause instability while you’re walking,
challenging certain muscle groups to work harder. Promised benefits include
improved posture, weight loss and firmer leg muscles and buttocks.
“Get in Shape Without Setting Foot in a Gym,” Skechers’ marketing
states and those claims are backed by scientific studies and praise from satisfied
But skeptics have long questioned the ability of toning shoes to
help tone bodies without breaking a sweat. Nike, one of the few footwear makers
not to jump on the craze, has publicly ridiculed the product.
Speaking to Tulsa
World, Dr. Brad Beasley, a Tulsa podiatrist and president
of the Oklahoma Podiatric Medical Association, noted that the shoes are risky
for those with bad balance, while likewise doubting their benefit.
“There’s no independent research that clearly shows that it has
that big of an impact on fitness,” said Dr. Beasley. “We all want
that quick convenient fix, but it’s definitely not a substitute for good
eating and exercise.”
While department stores, shoe retailers and sporting
goods chains have jumped on the trend, many running specialty stores aren’t
carrying toning product because of this skepticism.
Wii Fit, a breakout product for the last several Christmas seasons, has also
faced its cynics. A study from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) released
late last year found that the real activity (actual running or boxing) burned
many more calories than the game version. Only 14 of the 46 activities reached
a level of moderate exercise equal to that of walking.
“I guess anything is better than nothing, but we were a little bit underwhelmed
with the exercise intensity of some of the exercises,’ John Porcari, a University
of Wisconsin professor who oversaw the study, stated in the November/December
issue of Fitness Matters, a newsletter published by the American Council
on Exercise. “The Wii Fit is a very, very mild workout.’
A separate study
earlier this year by the U.K.’s watchdog group, Which?, found that household
chores like vacuuming or cleaning the bathroom cut more calories than playing
most games on the Wii Fit.
Discussion Questions: Should retailers have any qualms about selling weight-loss
products if their claims are suspect?
- Men: Wear Uniqlo Underwear, Lose
Weight? – The Wall Street Journal
- Experts urge caution in using toning shoes – Tulsa World
- ‘Toning’ shoes gain traction – Bloomberg News/MSNBC
revolutionary sneaker, or overhyped gimmick? – USA Today
- Is the Wii Fit a good workout? – Times Colonist
- Forget your Wii workout – just do a bit of dusting instead – Daily