Who hasn't seen all those infomercials flooding the airwaves: How to get abs with tone and definition and the sexy washboard stomach that you've always dreamed of – all without breaking a sweat. Pulsating jolts of electricity do the work for you, the ads claim, by making your muscles contract.
Millions of people have been seduced. But Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission called the claims absolutely false, reports CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.
"These electronic ab gadgets don't do a thing to turn a bulging beer belly into a sleek six-pack muscled stomach," said FTC chairman Timothy Muris. He said the government charges the marketers of the Ab Energizer, Abtronic and Fastabs with fraud and deception.
There are even reports of injuries from the devices: shocks, burns, interference with pacemakers...some people actually had to go to the hospital.
Fitness trainer Stephen Hinton got a jolt when he tried one. "It burned me, it did. The shocking from the gel -- it was awful!"
In addition to claims of false advertising, the FTC says the ads didn't specify that the equipment shouldn't be used by some people. The agency says this includes people with implanted pacemakers, swollen or inflamed areas, or cancerous lesions.
Officials want the alleged false ads stopped and the companies required to pay redress to consumers.
Abenergizer says it'll work with the government to resolve the concerns. Fastabs says it can't be blamed for how people use the belts. Abtronic wouldn't comment. But this may be the last of those chiseled bare bellies on TV.
For those who think they can get rock hard abs without sweating in the gym for hours, Hinton says: "It will not happen."
The hard truth, say experts, isn't shocking at all.
There's only one way to get a stomach that's absolutely fabulous -- do those crunches, and yes, you will sweat.
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