Bracelet of celebrities has no scientific backing
Power Balance bracelets promise to improve a wearer's balance, strength and flexibility. However, the maker of the bracelets has admits that there's no scientific evidence that the things work.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS — Power Balance bracelets promise to improve an athlete's balance, strength and flexibility and feature some lofty endorsers: Shaquille O'Neal, Drew Brees and Olympian Nicole Branagh. Yet the maker of the $30 bracelets admitted this week that there's no scientific evidence that the things actually work.
The producers of Power Balance bracelets have sold them by the millions around the globe. They adorn the celebrity wrists of Robert de Niro and Kate Middleton, among others. The hologram-embedded rubbery bracelets "work with your body's natural energy field" in ways similar to "concepts behind many Eastern philosophies," the Power Balance website explains.
These claims got the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which compelled Power Balance to issue a letter that was published in various media outlets Down Under.
"We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims," the company wrote. "Therefore we engaged in misleading conduct."
The letter goes on to say that "if you feel you have been misled by our promotions, we wish to unreservedly apologize and offer a full refund."
Stateside, Power Balance is now the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed this week in Los Angeles. The suit wants California-based Power Balance to pay up $5 million.
In follow-up statements posted Tuesday on its Facebook wall, the company wrote, "Power Balance works we guarantee it." It added that the bracelets will continue to be sold, explaining that its claims merely fell short of Australia's regulatory standards.
"A preliminary study recently conducted on the product's performance variables was commissioned," the statement noted, "and the findings have determined that the product does in fact provide a 'statistically significant' result on the wearer's performance."
Among Power Balance's most wholehearted endorsers is Branagh, the former star volleyball player for the University of Minnesota who went on to compete on sand in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
"When I put the band on, I just feel more centered — when I hit the sand or gym, I always have it on," Branagh is quoted as saying on the Power Balance website. "Since I was introduced to it in 2009, I have not played without it."
The website also includes a videotaped endorsement and demonstration by Branagh, the Big Ten's Player of the Year in 2000. A telephone message was left Thursday with Branagh to comment about the company's apology.
Despite news of the admission reaching the Northern Hemisphere, the bracelets continue to be sold.
"People are still buying them," said Nick Hoiseth, General Sports' retail manager, who started wearing one after shoulder surgery. "A lot of it was in the head to motivate me. Whatever gets you off the couch."
Hoiseth said sales were brisk leading up to Christmas and the store has no plans to pull them.
"We're rolling with them, as long as they are moving," he said.
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