'Acupuncture' slimming earrings not science-based

·3 min read

Posts viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook advertise "slimming earrings," claimed to press on acupuncture points to trigger dramatic weight loss. But experts dismiss the product as scientifically unfounded, and health agencies recommend individuals focus on exercise and a balanced diet.

"OMG I saw awesome results only the first day. It helped me get in shape in just 4 weeks! I feel healthier than ever and all the toxins in my body have been eliminated," says an August 27, 2022 Facebook post that includes a video of before and after images of people who purportedly lost weight with the help of earrings that are claimed to press on acupuncture points in the ear.

A screenshot of a Facebook post promoting "slimming earrings" taken on September 9, 2022

AFP found several iterations of the claim through other Facebook posts linking to websites with different names but selling similar products including ShinySlim, Fiveoo, Bromyrite, Cosmitu, Vacerk and Pomidea.

But the posts, which have gathered hundreds of thousands of views, are promoting a product that has no scientific base, health experts and agencies say.

According to registered dietitian Sarah Schenker, there is some scientific work on acupuncture to help weight loss, but the evidence and results on the subject are small and mixed.

Schenker told AFP: "It can't be relied on for significant results and you still need to diet and exercise."

Timothy Caulfield, expert in health misinformation and a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, agreed.

"These products are based on the pseudoscientific idea that there are points in the ear that correlate to points in the body. The practice is called auriculotherapy," he said, adding that the few studies on the topic have been "small or methodologically weak."

According to the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a National Institute of Health (NIH) agency, research "suggests that acupuncture can help manage certain pain conditions, but evidence about its value for other health issues is uncertain."

Caulfield also cautioned consumers to be skeptical of a "mass produced product aimed at a complex and challenging health issue" like the earrings advertised in the Facebook posts.

A screenshot of a website promoting "slimming" earrings taken on September 9, 2022

"There may be a short-term placebo effect that helps to motivate some consumers. But it is probably best just to save your money," Caulfield said. "The cliché applies: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is -- especially for weight loss products!"

The US Federal Trade Commission also cautions consumers: "Nothing you can wear or apply to your skin will cause you to lose weight. Period."

Instead, diet and exercise are necessary to achieve weight loss goals, according to public health experts.

For weight loss, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, also part of the NIH, recommends "a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity" -- if these lifestyle changes are not enough, it says, a health care professional may prescribe medications as part of a weight-control program.

AFP Fact Check has debunked other false offers for weight loss products here.