Would you like to sleep better and feel happier and less anxious? Who wouldn’t? That’s still the sales pitch for Gravity, a weighted blanket available on Kickstarter that has collected $3 million in pledges. However, after the science behind its boasts was challenged, the Gravity blanket no longer claims that it can treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
That distinction is important. If you say that something “treats” a medical condition, that makes it a drug or a medical device, like when the Food and Drug Administration told General Mills that its health claims about Cheerios and cholesterol levels meant that it was marketing the cereal like a drug.
STAT looked into claims made about the blankets and found that the studies didn’t really prove what they were supposed to. One compared psychiatric patients who had weighted blankets with those who didn’t, and both groups had lower anxiety levels. Another study compared adults using a weighted blanket with…no one. There was no control group.
The site quotes the original version of the campaign page, which told potential backers that the blanket can help people with a wide variety of psychological and psychiatric problems, or who are just having a bad day.
“The science behind Gravity reveals that it can be used to treat a variety of ailments, including insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as circumstantial stress and prolonged anxiety.”
You can also compare the original version of the product pitch with what the site currently says.
The Gravity blanket is considered a “general wellness product,” which means that it isn’t regulated by the FDA and doesn’t have to be approved. A weighted blanket is considered a “low-risk” health intervention that might be pricey, but probably will not hurt you.
The good news is that STAT’s complaint to Kickstarter led the project creator to revise the page, as we showed above. However, most of the three million dollars in pledges came before the revision was made, and it doesn’t look like there has been an update explaining the disappearance of those claims to backers.
Team Gravity made the changes, but didn’t respond to questions from STAT.