US government regulators have clamped down on sportswear maker Reebok for claims that its buttock-toning footwear would lead to a more shapely butt for its wearers.
The Federal Trade Commission said yesterday that Reebok, a unit of the German group Adidas, agreed to pay US$25 million (NZ$32.2m) in customer refunds to purchasers of its EasyTone walking shoes and RunTone running shoes.
The funds will be made available for consumer refunds either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class action lawsuit.
Reebok falsely claimed that walking in EasyTone footwear had been proven to lead to 28 per cent more strength and tone in the buttock muscles, and 11 per cent more strength and tone in the hamstring muscles and calf muscles than regular walking shoes, the FTC's complaint says.
Similar claims were made for the RunTone shoes and EasyTone flip-flops in a series of ads in print and on the television and internet which ran from 2009.
Ads for the shoes claimed sole technology featuring pockets of moving air creates "micro instability" that strengthens muscles as you walk or run.
"The FTC wants national advertisers to understand that they must exercise some responsibility and ensure that their claims for fitness gear are supported by sound science," said David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Reebok's EasyTone walking shoes and RunTone running shoes have retailed for $80 to $100 a pair, while EasyTone flip flops are priced around $60 a pair.