Claims made by ab exercise belts investigated Staff

Tue. May. 14 2002 6:21 PM

Health Canada is investigating whether electronic belts that claim to tone abdominal muscles are breaking any federal rules by making false claims.

The move follows lawsuits filed in the by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission against the marketers of three belt brands -- AB Energizer, AbTronic and Fast Abs.

The belts are sold in Canada and the United States on infomercials, the Internet, through retailers and in mall kiosks.

The U.S. suits take issue with claims the battery-operated belts can result in a trimmer tummy. The FTC says the advertisements which feature models, fitness experts and doctors, claim the devices can help users flatten the stomach and lose weight but are promising more than they can deliver.

The commission says only diet and exercise will lead to toned stomach muscles, and contends sales claims on the products are fraudulent.

"These electronic abs gadgets don't do a thing to turn a bulging beer belly into a sleek six-pack stomach,'' says FTC Chairman Timothy Muris. "These chaims are false. They are deceptive. You simply cannot lose weight, you cannot lose inches."

"Unfortunately, there are no magic pills, potions, or pulsators for losing weight and getting into shape. The only winning combination is changing your diet and exercise."

Jeffrey Knowles, an attorney for the manufacturer of FastAbs says the machines do stimulate the muscles to contract and firm muscles, but admits, "claims as to weight loss or inches loss are problematic unless the product is coupled with exercise and diet."

The FTC also alleges that the manugacturers misrepresented their "money-back guarantees" and, in many cases, failed to provide timely refunds.

Ryan Baker, a spokesman in Ottawa, says Health Canada has never investigated such products, even though they're widely available here. Baker says the department has to determine if the belts should be regulated as medical devices, and decide what action to take.

Health Canada looking at ab belts :42
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