Author: K. Purdenn
Many slimming and muscle conditioning equipment, techniques, strategies or products that advertise themselves as "major breakthroughs' are actually nothing more than marketing ploys. Among the many products that have received flak lately for making false claims and contradicting major tenets of advertising is the ab belt.
Among the most common pitches for the ab belt is that it can lead to a flatter, more toned tummy within a few weeks, is a no-sweat way to lose weight, and is 30% more reliable than normal exercise to help people shape up. Although simple enough to strap and fasten using an adjustable belt, and certainly promising as a quick fix to lose weight and tone up the midsection, most ab belts have been given the thumbs-down by consumers. They are useless, ineffective gadgets, some will say. They are painless, hence they gain little or nothing for those bent on losing weight. The most recent furor over ab belts is that certain brands in the marketplace lack the stamp of approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In retrospect, ab belt devices first gained prominence back in the 1970s when word spread around that they were the Soviet Olympians' secret weapons. Today, these simple-looking abound in the marketplace, especially in online stores and cable television.
The ad belt is marketed as a surefire way to melt away fat by employing EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulator) technology. It uses electrical currents that causes the stomach muscles to rapidly contract. The end goal: to build muscle, and burn fat. Sometime in 2002, three highly promoted electronic abdominal exercise belts were charged by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with false advertising. The FTC felt that the device marketers have done consumers a huge disservice not only by falsely advertising that they can get wearers six pack abs without the benefit of exercise, but also by failing to disclose warnings about health hazards posed to certain people (particularly those with special medical conditions or wearing implanted pacemakers or other electronic devices or those with cancerous lesions. Also questioned by the FTC is the defendants' intent to dupe consumers for not living up to its "money-back guarantee" offers.
As for other ab belts that have been hawked through infomercials on cable television, certain manufacturing defects or need for improvements have been raised by some consumers. In reality, marketers that overextend fitness and wellness claims are nothing new. Profit-oriented business ventures, manufacturers, and retail stores make claims that they sometimes fail to live up to, or which they never were capable of delivering.
Using well-toned, bare-chested muscled men and attractively sexy women as models sporting the ab belts, what the infomercials depicted before TV audiences was that the electronic ab belt can lead to weight loss or fat reduction, and enhanced abdominal muscles. The FTC sought to uphold consumer protection, in an effort to discourage other firms from preying on hapless consumers. It turned out that the FTC had a strong case going for it, as most of the culprits charged with false claims have been held liable and made to pay millions of pesos in redress. The incident also highlights that people need to go for a proven product -- preferably marketed by certified fitness experts or doctors -- to effectively work their way to a dream figure, characterized by a well-toned, strong and gorgeous-looking body, six pack abs included.
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