The U.S. Federal Trade Commission charged marketers of three widely advertised electronic abdominal exercise belts (AB Energizer, AbTronic, and Fast Abs) with falsely advertising that users will get “six pack” or “washboard” abs without exercising. The FTC said that the ads have falsely stated that the devices (a) cause fat loss and inch loss; (b) give users well-defined abdominal muscles; (c) are equivalent or superior to ordinary abdominal exercises, such as sit-ups or crunches; and (d) are safe for all users.

Your brain does send an electrical impulse along nerves that enter muscles to cause them to contract. The electrical impulses generated by ab machines are so weak that they can’t possibly cause contractions that strengthen muscles significantly. If they did give you enough electricity to strengthen your muscles, they would give you a very painful shock.

You CAN strengthen your abdominal muscles with devices that help you exercise them against resistance, but even this will not get rid of belly fat. When you take in more calories than your body burns, you store the extra calories as fat. Some people store fat primarily in their hips, while others store their fat primarily in their bellies. More than half of the fat in your body is stored underneath your skin and over your muscles. Exercising a specific muscle does not get rid of fat over that muscle. If it did, tennis players would have less fat in their tennis arms, but they don’t. Ab exercises can strengthen weak belly muscles, but they will not remove extra fat from your belly. People who store their excess fat primarily in the belly are at increased risk for heart attacks and diabetes. You get rid of belly fat with any kind of vigorous exercise and a sensible weight loss diet.

Checked 10/6/16