Dr. Mehmet Oz, charming star of the daytime TV show bearing his name, appeared before a U.S. Senate committee on consumer protection last week.
Why was the beloved doctor hauled out to Capitol Hill for a grilling?
Well, in short, it’s because he has been a very bad boy.
You see, Dr. McHeartthrob has taken to using terms like “miracle in a bottle”, “magic weight loss cure” and “lightning in a bottle” to describe various tonics, elixirs, pills and potions featured on his popular show.
“Thanks to brand new scientific research, I can tell you about a revolutionary fat buster,” Oz said on his show in November 2012 with the words “No Exercise. No Diet. No Effort” on the screen behind him. “It’s called Garcinia cambogia.”
Oh the horror.
And what about this Oz-described miracle supplement, green coffee bean extract, which he touted the virtues of in May 2012?
“You may think magic is make believe, but this little bean has scientists saying they’ve found the magic weight-loss cure for every body type.”
Magic bean? What’s next, a sky-high beanstalk, a goose that lays golden eggs and a Fe-Fi-Fo spouting giant?
All jesting aside, the frightening truth is that a scientific study on obese lab mice showed that not only did the green coffee bean extract not help them to shed weight, but it actually gave them early symptoms of diabetes.
So now I understand why the U.S. Senate committee had a few questions for the good doctor.
This CNN article outlines the grilling Oz was subjected to, led by Senator Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance.
“The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called ‘miracles,’ ” said McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. She said she was discouraged by the “false hope” his rhetoric gives viewers and questioned his role “intentional or not, in perpetuating these scams.”
“I don’t get why you need to say this stuff when you know it’s not true. When you have this amazing megaphone, why would you cheapen your show? … With power comes a great deal of responsibility.”
In response, Dr. Oz had this to say,
“We have to simplify complicated information. We have to make the material seem interesting and focus on the ‘wow’ factor.”
In other words, my viewers are not only stupid, but they are enticed by bright, shiny objects, so I have to say stuff like this to keep their attention.
Oh Dr. Oz, shame on you.
Last year consumers spent $2.4 Billion on weight loss products. Oz-endorsed products did particularly well; they call it “The Oz Effect”. Oz, you are indeed great and powerful, but as Senator McCaskill noted above, with great power comes great responsibility.
You may be asking yourself how Dr. Oz, or anyone else for that matter, could make claims like “magic in a bottle” and get away with it. It’s because the claims made need not be substantiated or approved by the FDA.
Yep, you read that right.
Dietary supplements are completely unregulated in the U.S. So marketers of these products can tell you that their products will “melt the pounds off”, provide “miracle weight loss” or whatever else they’d like to say, because they don’t need to prove any of it.
You can thank the lobbyists for that.
Here is what the fantastic John Oliver had to say about the situation. His diatribe on Dr. Oz is absolutely hilarious and entertaining, but the really bothersome and unsavory stuff starts at around the 5 minute mark, when he focuses his rant on the FTC, the FDA and the all-powerful lobby groups. Have a look:
In my opinion, there’s plenty of blame to go around;
- Dr. Oz, while not financially gaining from the sales of the products he has endorsed on his show, does use completely inappropriate, flowery and misleading statements for the sizzle factor and to engage his audience. This is not cool.
- The current relationship and oversight of the FTC & FDA (or lack thereof) does not work. The heavy influence of the mighty lobby groups is clear and evident. When will the government institute a watchdog system to address this?
- John Q. Public. You, me, all of us. Magic pills? Miracle weight loss? COME ON! Really?
I know that hope springs eternal, and that everyone would love the idea of a silver bullet.
The truth about sustained weight loss is not sexy. It has no sizzle, or “wow factor”, as Dr. Oz puts it. The only way to achieve and maintain sustainable weight loss is to adopt a lifestyle that includes healthy food choices and exercise. I think deep down we all know this to be true.
So if we continue to spend $2.4 Billion on weight loss products, in light of all this information, then that’s on us. And that’s a real shame.