U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the Chairman of the Consumer Protection Committee, questioned Dr. Mehmet Oz at a hearing about deceptive marketing and weight loss and diet scams. Watch the video above for some of the back and forth between Dr. Oz and the committee.
The Danger of the ‘Oz Effect’
The committee had problems with the way Dr. Oz presented many of the ingredients and supplements on his popular show. They claimed that he presents these weight loss aids as medical advice even though they lack a lot of scientific research, which gives people false hope. The green coffee bean is a perfect example of this.
Senator McCaskill said that when he does things like use the words “miracle and diet and weight loss together, it’s a recipe for disaster.” She also mentioned the ‘Oz Effect’, which is the huge boost in sales that occurs when Dr. Oz mentions a product on his show.
Dr. Oz’s Defense
Dr. Oz’s response to this criticism was that his main message has always been to ‘eat less and move more’. But he also went on to say that weight issues affect about 2/3 of the U.S. population, so he is always on the search for tools, crutches, and short-term supports to help people that still struggle with their diet. He also agreed that many of the things that he recommends are alternative and controversial and that they wouldn’t pass muster with the FDA.
Senator McCaskill dismissed his actual belief in the ingredients and supplements. She said, “I don’t get why you say this stuff when you know it’s not true.”
Dr. Oz stuck to his guns, saying he actually did believe in these products and gave the same advice to his family as he did on the show. He said that the worst thing he did was not tell people where to buy the products. He claimed that he wanted to stay “above the fray”, but that instead this opened the market for unsavory products and supplements.
He did, however, agree to watch his language in the future and vowed that he wanted to be part of the solution to protect consumers.
Is Dr. Oz Guilty of Shilling Diet Products?
Anyone that covers health and wellness is aware of the impact that Dr. Oz has on the buying public, who hang onto his every recommendation for health supplements. If he mentions an ingredient on his show, the number of Google searches can be within the hundreds of thousands within minutes. Yacon syrup is a recent example of this.
Dr. Oz did, in fact, go on a “it’s not me” campaign a couple years ago to warn people about false endorsements. He said in this interview he was especially worried about supplements and diet pills that show up with his picture saying that he has endorsed them. He says quite clearly that he never pushes products and brands.
I’ve always liked his recommendations on green smoothies and his advice on Ayurvedic practices. But I’ve also actually never seen a full episode of his show. So I took a look at some of his popular clips and shows to see if he’s really been endorsing some of these scam diet pills and bogus weight loss supplements.
Dr. Oz on Weight Loss
In this clip, Dr. Oz talks about some of the science of health, diet, and weight loss. He talks about the Lifesaving 5 numbers that you need to know: `weight, waist size, blood pressure, cholesterol, and fasting blood sugar. He also outlines his top tips for weight loss (below).
Here, he gives good tips, good information, and a sensible approach to weight loss. He says at the end of the video that “smart dieting is a marathon.”
His Weight Loss Action Steps:
High Fiber Breakfast
Snacks Smaller Than a Fist
No Food Within 3 Hours of Bedtime
Move 30 Minutes Per Day
Dr. Oz on Anti-Aging
Here, Dr. Oz talks to Good Housekeeping about anti-aging tips and he has some practical tips:
1. Manage hypertension
2. Do not smoke
3. Find a healthy diet that you love
4. An exercise plan that makes sense for you
5. Stress management plan – deep breathing techniques
Anti-Aging Foods: brightly colored fruits and vegetables, broccoli, blueberries, raspberries, omega-3 fatty acids.
Dr. Oz on All-Natural Weight Loss Supplements
1. Breakfast – add sage leaf tea
2. Lunch – take alpha lipoic acid supplement
3. Snacks – add maitake mushroom extract drops
4. Dinner – add glucomannan
Some of these suggestions are a little out there and even though I have heard of them before, Dr. Oz certainly phrases his tips as scientific fact. He does not give any cautionary warnings or caveats.
Dr. Oz on the HCG Diet
This diet is part of the reason that C-list TV personality, Kevin Trudeau, went to jail. It’s not endorsed by any respectable health establishment and most doctors think it’s quite unsafe. Although Dr. Oz does look into the pros and cons of the diet on his show, he does mention losing ‘a pound a day’, says everyone ‘wants to be on it’ and that people have lost an ‘amazing amount of weight.’ Yes, he’s definitely guilty of flowery language, or the marketingspeak that gets people to stay watching through the commercial break.
I think there’s also an inherent danger in being a TV personality that gives medical advice. Dr. Oz has ratings and advertisers and producers to deal with, and these things probably require recurrent miracle cures and “lightning in a bottle.”