FTC SUES AB EXERCISE BELT MAKERS

Says Infomercials Make False Weight-Loss Claims

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The makers of the heavily advertised abdominal excercise belts face allegations of making false claims in infomercials on cable TV regarding the effectiveness of their weight-loss gadgets.

The Federal Trade Commission today filed three separate complaints in federal district courts against the marketers of AB Energizer, AbTronic and Fast Abs. The FTC alleges the marketers falsely claimed that users could get "six pack" or "washboard" abs without exercise, and that they "misrepresented" their "money-back guarantees."

'Electronic muscle stimulation'
The infomercials state that consumers can get "rock hard" abs without exercise from the devices' use of "electronic muscle stimulation." In addition to the infomercials, the FTC said the defendants marketed the belts through Web sites and retail outlets, and that the package labeling also made "false and deceptive" claims.

The FTC said it is seeking permanent injunctions against the marketers behind each device prohibiting them from making false or deceptive advertising claims and from engaging in other deceptive marketing practices and requiring them to pay back consumers.

The FTC said the belts were advertised in 30-minute infomercials on national cable networks such as USA, TNN, Lifetime, E!, FX and Comedy Central and that each of the ads have been among the 10 most frequently aired infomercials, airing well over a thousand times.

Hawking false hope
"For years, marketers of diet and exercise products have been preying on overweight, out-of-shape consumers by hawking false hope in a pill, false hope in a bottle, and, now, in a belt," FTC Chairman Timothy Muris said. "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."

None of the companies sued could immediately be reached for comment.

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