'Cellulite blasting' toning shoes take a legal hit in the US

Can a pair of goofy-looking toning shoes help you burn calories, banish cellulite, sculpt your thighs and buttocks, and even curb joint pain? Researchers say no way.

Shoemaker Skechers USA has just agreed to shell out $40 million to settle claims that its Kim Kardashian-backed Shape-ups shoes don't help you drop weight or tone your abs, buttocks and legs, according to the Federal Trade Commission last week. The organization said that there is no evidence that Skechers shoes work any better than a pair of regular running shoes. (If you bought Skechers in the US, you can apply for a refund.)

"Skechers' unfounded claims went beyond stronger and more toned muscles," said a statement by David Vladeck, head of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "The company even made claims about weight loss and cardiovascular health."

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), a nonprofit group, compared toning shoes from Skechers, MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) and Reebok EasyTone with standard running shoes. The group found that there is "simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone."

Sure, you may feel a little initial soreness after wearing the shoes, but experts say that you are just using different muscles to maintain balance on an unstable sole and that the soreness will subside after your body adjusts.

According to a report on WebMD, shoemakers are "unshaken" by the research, noting that the study was not published in a peer-reviewed journal and involved only a small sampling of fit young women.

"We looked at stability balls from the gym and incorporated that same thinking into a shoe," Bill McInnis, the head of advanced innovation for Reebok, told WebMD. "The idea was that introducing soft, micro-instability in the shoe would cause you to have to rebalance a bit with every single step and cause your muscles to work a little harder all day long."

Watch an ad featuring Kim Kardashian for Skechers Shape-ups: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erhbn3ElJVo