(Embargoed) CHAPEL HILL - So-called "thigh-reducing" creams, marketed to overweight women and normal-weight women who believe their thighs are too large have no positive physical effect beyond moisturizing.
That's the conclusion researchers drew after measuring the thighs of volunteers who applied the creams for six weeks in the first well-controlled scientific study of the products.
The study, presented Thursday (June 3) at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual conference in Seattle, showed no significant difference between upper-leg circumference when women rubbed the creams on one thigh every day and a lotion not touted as fat-reducing on the other.
"Manufacturers of these creams rake in the bucks for a product that doesn't work," said Dr. Bonita Marks, assistant professor of physical education, exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "They feed on unfounded, poor self-images many women have of their bodies."
Others involved in the research were Drs. Jerome Haky of Florida Atlantic University and Laurence Katz, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the UNC-CH School of Medicine.
Because of the time required to process each volunteer daily, researchers concentrated on only 11 women, all students at UNC-CH or Florida Atlantic University. The women, who ranged in age from 18 to 35, applied "thigh-reducing" cream to one leg for six weeks and an inactive product to the other. They were asked not to change their routines by dieting or exercising more during the study than before. Neither scientists nor subjects knew which leg got what until the end of the project.
"I was amazed at the types of women responding to participate," Marks said. "They were not the ones we would think might need it, but rather they were mostly young, normal-weight women."
Researchers used special equipment to measure each volunteer's thighs
near the knee, at
Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill