Idaho and other states, along with the federal government, announced a $45 million settlement of allegations that Skechers toning shoes were improperly marketed as weight-dropping, muscle-toning, fat-burning footwear.
I called around to some local retailers and confirmed that the shoes — Shape-Ups, Tone-Ups and Skechers Resistance Runners — have been sold at Treasure Valley stores. The FTC says the shoes, introduced in 2009 and 2010, sold for $60 to $100 a pair. If you want to apply for a refund, go to www.ftc.gov/skechers for more info.
The FTC says Skechers USA Inc. advertised Shape-ups using celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Brooke Burke. A commercial that aired during the 2011 Super Bowl showed Kardashian firing her personal trainer in favor of the shoes. The Burke commercial "told consumers that the newest way to burn calories and tone and strengthen muscles was to tie their Shape-ups shoe laces," says the FTC.
The allegations, which Skechers denies, are laid out in detail in the FTC's complaint.
Skechers said in a news release that it believes its advertising was appropriate, but has decided to settle these claims in order to avoid protracted legal proceedings." The company will continue to sell the shoes.
Some interesting tidbits from the FTC complaint:
- "In fact, two of the four studies conducted on the Shape-ups footwear products were conducted by chiropractor Steven Gautreau, who is or was a compensated endorser for Shape-ups, and who is married to a senior vice president of marketing at Skechers," the complaint says.
- "The data relied upon during [one] study were altered and incomplete: some participants wearing the Shape-ups footwear gained weight and/or increased their body fat percentage, but were falsely reported as having lost weight and/or reduced their body fat percentage; two subjects who were in the control group and lost weight had their data falsely attributed to the Shape-ups group; and data were missing or not collected for some of the study's participants. In addition, some of the study's participants were connected to the researchers: the wives of two of the study's co-authors, the parents of one of the study's co-authors, and employees of and/or persons associated with Dr. Gautreau," it says.
- "In fact, each muscle activation percentage cited [in advertising for the Resistance Runner] is based on the readings from a single subject in a one-day study, and thus none is representative of what consumers could reasonably expect to achieve from wearing [those shoes]," the complaint says.