Two companies that sell women's underwear infused with caffeine have agreed to refund $1.5 million to consumers to settle charges that they falsely advertised their products would reduce cellulite and zap fat, the Federal Trade Commission announced last week.
In addition to the refunds, the settlements bar Norm Thompson Outfitters Inc., a catalog retailer based in Oregon, and Wacoal America Inc., a lingerie company in New Jersey, from making any further unsubstantiated claims about their caffeinated "shapewear."
There's no scientific evidence that the shapewear — infused with microencapsulated caffeine, retinol, vitamin E and aloe vera, among other ingredients — can reshape womens' bodies or eliminate cellulite as advertised, said the FTC, which filed complaints against both companies.
"Caffeine-infused shapewear is the latest 'weight-loss' brew concocted by marketers," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. "If someone says you can lose weight by wearing the clothes they are selling, steer clear. The best approach is tried and true: diet and exercise."
Made with Lytess brand fabrics, the shapewear sold online by Norm Thompson Outfitters for $49 to $79 promised to reduce wearers' hip measurements by up to 2 inches and thigh measurements by 1 inch "without any effort," according to the FTC's complaint.
Norm Thompson also implied that Dr. Oz endorsed its shapewear, but the FTC says the celebrity TV surgeon never did.
Wacoal America made similar claims about its "revolutionary" iPants, which sold for $44 to $85.
Advertisements for iPants cited scientific tests that supposedly proved the company's shapewear would substantially reduce a woman's thigh measurements if worn 8 hours a day, 7 days a week for 28 days.
But the FTC's complaint alleges that Wacoal exaggerated results of the tests, which were based on two flawed, uncontrolled clinical trials.