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Caffeinated underwear won't help you lose weight, U.S. government confirms

Categories: Community, Health

 A Neiman Marcus ad for Wacoal's "iPant," which purported to eliminate cellulite and slim a wearer's thighs with caffeine and other non-traditional underpant ingredients. (Neiman Marcus / NPR)

Looking to lose some weight or get rid of cellulite on your backside with the least amount of effort possible? 

Underwear infused with caffeine is not the solution to your problem -- as lovely as the idea may be. 

The U.S. government's Federal Trade Commission announced this week that two marketers of women's undergarments would be refunding more than $1.5 million U.S. to consumers who had purchased "caffeine-infused shapewear" with the intention of slimming down. 

Both Norm Thompson Outfitters, Inc., and Wacoal America, Inc. initially came under FTC scrutiny for selling women's undergarments that purported to eliminate or substantially reduce cellulite and reduce the wearer's hip and thigh measurements "without any effort." 

The FTC's complaints allege that both companies made claims that were "not true or substantiated by scientific evidence" and that they "deceptively advertised, marketed, and sold" these products. 

In the case of Norm Thompson Outfitters, Inc. specifically, the FTC cited a catalog advertisement that included an endorsement from talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was famously scolded by a U.S. Senate panel earlier this year for "perpetuating weight-loss fraud through his show."

 A portion of the FTC complaint against Norm Thompson Outfitters, Inc.'s "Lytess" undergarment. (

Both companies have settled the FTC's charges against them, agreeing to a ban that would prevent either "from claiming that any garment that contains any drug or cosmetic causes substantial weight or fat loss or a substantial reduction in body size," in the future -- unless of course these claims can be substantiated by "competent and reliable scientific evidence."

Oregon-based Norm Thompson Outfitters, Inc., which sold its undergarments through mail order and on several websites, has been ordered to pay the FTC $230,000 so that it can issue consumer refunds.

Wacoal America, the New Jersey-based purveyor of iPants, has agreed to pay out $1.3 million for the same purpose.

"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."

Have you ever tried a product with claims that were literally too good to be true? Share your stories below.

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