Why We Fell For ‘Barefoot’ Shoes
The sensationalist claims make by this well known sneaker company have resulted in a class action suit. Did their pseudoscience have you convinced?
From snake oil to supplements, Americans keep falling for shaky claims about health products. Blame our obsession with finding shortcuts to better health and fitness, and the many companies ready to take advantage of it.
In the latest example, Vibram, the maker of those $100 running shoes that look like feet, recently said it would settle a multimillion-dollar lawsuit alleging it made baseless claims that its FiveFingers shoes improve foot health, balance and muscles. Vibram is the latest in a line of shoemakers and other purveyors accused of hawking products with questionable health claims. It likely won’t be the last.
“Everyone is looking for that magic bullet that’s going to give them that extra edge,” said Cedric Bryant, the chief science officer at the American Exercise Council. “In most cases, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t [true].”
Companies make billions capitalizing on our desires for quick fixes and improved athletic performance. The Federal Trade Commission has accused at least four companies just this year of marketing “unfounded promises” of weight loss simply by using a cream or food additive. Weight-loss products accounted for the largest share of fraud claims submitted to the FTC in 2011, according to The New York Times.