Power Balance bracelets are 'no better than a rubber band': A-list accessory maker forced to give refunds by advertising watchdog
By Tamara Abraham
UK Daily Mail
Last updated at 2:20 PM on 4th January 2011
They were last year's hottest celebrity accessory.
Power Balance wristbands, which promised to improve the wearer's balance, strength and flexibility, were the adornment no A-lister would be seen without, and were spotted on everyone from David Beckham to Kate Middleton.
Now the company behind the £29.99 bracelet has admitted that there is no scientific evidence behind the claims, and that they are no more beneficial than an ordinary rubber band.
It is now offering refunds to customers in Australia who believe they were misled, and will be changing its website, packaging and advertising to reflect the new, more accurate, message.
It must also remove the words 'performance technology' from the band itself.
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel explained: 'Suppliers of these types of products must ensure that they are not claiming supposed benefits when there is no supportive scientific evidence.
Princess power: Even Kate Middleton bought into the Power Balance hype
'Consumers should be wary of other similar products on the market that make unsubstantiated claims, when they may be no more beneficial than a rubber band.'
Power Balance wristbands won the approval of celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, P Diddy, Robert De Niro, Kate Middleton, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The brainchild of Californian entrepreneur Josh Rodarmel, 28, who developed the bands with his brother, Troy, three years ago, they claimed that a special hologram, set in the silicone band, enhances the body's natural energy.
In an interview last year, he explained: 'Everything in nature has a set frequency. The body has a frequency and things which cause negativity to the human body – like mobile phones and radio waves – break down its natural healing frequency.
'My brother and I worked out a way of putting good frequencies into our holograms so they balance out the body, making it stronger and more flexible.
'It works in different ways for different people. Athletes say they can last longer on the field, that they have better balance and that their muscles recover quicker.
'Non-athletes say it works for them, too, giving them that extra boost off the field, in many areas of life including the office and in the bedroom.'
High-profile endorsements sent sales soaring and an estimated 2.5million Power Balance bands have now been sold worldwide.
But even before the ACCC cast its verdict, Power Balance had its doubters.
Dr Victor Thompson, a sports psychologist based in London, said: 'I'm not aware of any research that supports the technology behind these bands.'
But he added that the band probably enjoyed success thanks to a placebo effect – that a belief that the band was working alone could help improve performance.
'If you're wearing something that tells you it's going to improve your power, balance and co-ordination, it probably will. And what athlete wouldn't want that?' he said.