Saturday, November 23, 2013

Shapewear for Retirees

Good news for retirees who are struggling to get their BMI (Body Mass Index) under control. There’s new shapewear that’s supposed to help us burn off fat.

We now have at our disposal exercise pants and other items that are infused with caffeine to help us lose weight. When I learned about these, my first thought was: I’ve heard of transdermal delivery of medications, but this is ridiculous. My second thought was: If it works, why don’t we just soak in a tubful of coffee?

I researched this before I decided to report on it. I uncovered several companies that are marketing caffeine-infused shapewear. There’s Lytess, French makers of leggings, and SkinKiss Limited in the UK, offering caffeine tights and shapewear.

The UK’s Daily Mail reported on another French company that makes the line Top Model from designer Simone Pérèle. I assumed Simone was a “top model” in France, but it turns out she was a corsetière. She obtained her diploma in corset making in 1935; after the war, she specialized in made-to-order lingerie, especially bras. Her children now run the company.

I digress. The supposed science behind these caffeine-infused garments was reported in 2006 research at Vanderbilt University. Authors Minnette Boesel and Professor Schlundt claim that caffeine “helps blood flow to the skin and works like a diuretic, flushing moisture out of the skin and firming it.” Actually, the quote comes from the editor of Allure Magazine, which makes one suspicious of the scientific cred of this study.

Topicals that make these claims usually contain not just caffeine, but also vitamin E, retinol, aloe vera and even fennel and gotu kola (whatever that is). I’ll tell you what that is. It’s a swamp plant found in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Its leaves and stems are used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Several websites emphasize that gotu kola is not the same as the kola nut; gotu kola does not have caffeine and is not a stimulant. On that edifying note, let’s return to the Vanderbilt study.

Boesel concluded that while “some of these lotions and potions with caffeine may have some effect on the appearance of cellulite as a result of dehydration… the results are temporary and do nothing to banish the presence of cellulite.” So what. The results may not last forever, but let’s face it: nothing does anymore. Back now to the caffeine-infused shapewear.

According to Good Morning America, the makers claim that Lytess leggings can take as much as “two inches off your hips and more than an inch from your thighs just by wearing them for 5 hours a day for 21 days.” Plus, they don’t smell like coffee, and they don’t keep you up at night. I don’t know about you, but I’d sit up bug-eyed for three weeks if it would take two inches off my hips. The company claims it “has sold 3.5 million pairs of the pants in France to satisfied customers.” I’ll bet they’re satisfied! says that its products “contain Microcapsules of Caffeine that have slimming benefits” and that their “caffeine tights have won critical acclaim.” There was no elaboration on the specifics of the benefits or the source of the acclaim. The Daily Mail tells us that Top Model caffeine-infused microfiber shapewear “blasts cellulite.” An independent 28-day study reports “63% of women tested it and said it was effective.” Oh, and the effects last for 100 washes, at $50 to $80 a pop.

If your lingerie budget is as skimpy as mine post-retirement, you’ll probably want to look into other ways to control your BMI before you jump into the caffeine panties. To that end, my post next week will cover yoga exercises for seniors.

In the meantime, I’m going to see if anyone is developing nicotine-infused shapewear as a way to help folks quit smoking. I’m not a smoker, but I bet there’s a fortune to be made in replacing cigarettes with nico panties. If I can get in on the ground floor of this with even a modest investment, I’ll probably be able to afford caffeine panties. And more expensive wine. What can I say? I’m just an entrepreneur at heart.

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