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Regulating the New Fad That's Spinning Out of Control

Fidget spinners- they’re everywhere. Popular with children in elementary schools and even some adults in the workplace, they are a craze across the globe. These palm-sized, three-pronged gadgets are being marketed as miracle toys. In fact, sites like Amazon are claiming that these devices are able to treat neurological disorders such as autism, ADHD and anxiety.

Since there is no published scientific research to back the fidget spinner’s medical claims, this creates a regulatory conundrum for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While the false claims are very clearly a concern, it would be difficult for the FDA to justify taking them off the market due to the innocuous nature of the product. It would also be a logistical nightmare due to its large number of manufacturers and distributors.

We saw a similar situation with PowerBalance wristbands a couple of years back, when they claimed that their bracelets improve strength and flexibility despite their lack of credible research.

It will be interesting to see how the FDA will proceed. Until then, I’m sure this situation is making their heads spin.


  1. FDA Map- Making Regulations Easy. Fidget Spinner: Should FDA Regulate or Leave Them Alone? [last modified 2017 June 1; cited 2017 June 14]. Available from:

  2. Mashable: Experts poke holes in claims that fidget spinners can treat ADHD [last modified 2017 May 14; cited 2017 June 14]. Available from:

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