Posts falsely promise weight loss via magnetic bracelets
Facebook posts claim that wearing a magnetic bracelet will lead to dramatic weight loss. But experts dismiss the claim as scientifically unfounded, and consumer advocates warn against purchasing such products.
"With the power of magnetic field you will be able to loseWeight and even decrease theSwelling on your body so you will not feeling heavy anymore," says an April 25, 2022 Facebook post that includes a video of before and after images of people who purportedly slimmed down with the help of so-called "Titanium Slimming Therapy."
The post links to a website selling the bracelets for around $23.
The bracelets are also advertised in Facebook posts claiming they provide a "metabolic boost," while a similar product was pitched in posts, including one claiming to offer "magical relief."
The posts are part of a pattern of health misinformation spreading on social media that includes other spurious weight loss claims.
But the bracelets are not a simple weight loss cure, according to Donald Hensrud, associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic.
"I know of no good scientific evidence that magnetic bracelets stimulate metabolism or help with weight loss," Hensrud told AFP.
Instead, diet and exercise are necessary to achieve weight loss goals, according to public health experts.
The US Federal Trade Commission says: "Nothing you can wear or apply to your skin will cause you to lose weight. Period."
This was echoed by Joe Schwarcz, director of the McGill University Office for Science and Society.
"It's absolute nonsense," he said, pointing to a lack of clinical evidence for the efficacy of the bracelets.
"If there were a simple solution, you wouldn't be hearing about it from some multi-level marketer, you'd be hearing about it from some legitimate source. It would be peer-reviewed published literature," he said.
Schwarcz said that wearing magnets in a bracelet is not dangerous in and of itself, but could prove problematic if a person puts faith in the jewelry over seeking treatment for a serious condition.
"Other than that, it's your wallet that is being harmed," he said.
Jenna Drenten, associate professor of marketing at Loyola University, Chicago said that this type of social media advertising compares to the long history of "snake oil sales, only modernized for the digital age."
She warned that companies take advantage of consumers by "creating problems that may not even exist -- like armpit fat," and then offering miraculous cures.
Sandra Guile, director of communications for the International Association of Better Business Bureaus (BBB), agreed that consumers should think twice before buying through social media advertisements, and interrogate whether a product for weight loss has been approved by food and drug regulators.
"Typically, BBB encourages customers to use caution when considering using a weight loss product and a healthy sense of skepticism when reading the product claims," she said.
AFP Fact Check has debunked other inaccurate health-related claims here.