Although a bit off-topic compared to what we normally discuss in this blog, I have become increasingly concerned about the profit-driven risks posed to the elderly by what have become known as "toner" shoes.  Multiple major sneaker companies have begun marketing  "toner" sneakers that provide little or no support  to the foot or legs – with the spurious claim that that same lack of support somehow replaces the need for exercise.  In other words, they claim that by wearing shoes that require the use of extraordinary effort simply to stand up or walk, consumers will be toned.
Most studies suggest that this is simply not the case.  More importantly, though, unsuspecting consumers are getting badly injured.  Some have suffered broken bones, while others have fallen and suffered significant brain injuries.  The cause for these injuries is two-fold:
In the first instance, the shoes simply do not provide the support that people need to get around.  Thus, they fall…often with major injuries.  This risk is most pronounced in the old and the frail.  Sadly, these are the folks to whom large corporations directly market their claims.
The second category involves repetitive stress injuries.  People wearing these shoes can place an unnatural burden on their bones when their gait is altered.  Over time, simply wearing the shoes has been alleged to have caused multiple fractures in the consumer – even those who are young.  Obviously, the risk is greater for older people with more brittle bones.
Here’s an article by a very concerned physician, outlining the problem.
In the end, this is all about big business.  It is the fastest growing segment of the shoe industry – well in excess of a billion dollars a year.  Some have noted that with that kind of money involved, the injuries suffered along the way may very well simply be considered a cost of doing business – reminiscent of Ford’s decision to save money on the Ford Pinto and the multiple lives lost because of that decision.