Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Did Dr. Oz Sell his Soul for Supplements?

For many years, Dr. Mehmet Oz has been "America's doctor," dispensing free advice on Oprah and then his own show, and publishing books about how to be the healthiest person you can be. Because of his impressive medical career and engaging TV personality, Dr. Oz has gained quite the following because people simply trust his seemingly no nonsense and common sense advice about health and wellness. And he seemed to have a knack for learning about the next big thing in health care, especially when it was information about some great new health approach such as Acai berries or the ancient Chinese practice of qi gong, or the benefit of chia seeds for something other than a "Chia Pet."

It all seemed so great - but Dr. Oz may have gone to far in his promotion of "magical cures" and "easy steps to weight loss." As many less-than-scrupulous marketers began using Dr. Oz's claims to sell potentially worthless supplements to a gullible public searching for a short cut to health, the "Good Doctor" sought to protect himself from companies using his image, name, and claims without permission. So, Dr. Oz went to Washington to let a Congressional panel investigate this issue. And for his trouble, Dr. Oz got an earful from Congressional leaders such as Senator Claire McCaskill who called the doc out for making some rather ridiculous - and unprofessional - claims.

McCaskill read Oz’s words from past segments of The Dr. Oz Show back to him with a clinical formality that underscored their absurdity:
  • “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: It’s green coffee extract.”
  • “I've got the number-one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat: It's raspberry ketone.”
  • “Garcinia cambogia: It may be the simple solution you’ve been looking for to bust your body fat for good.
McCaskill continued, as if reproaching a child. “I don't know why you need to say this stuff, because you know it's not true. Why—when you have this amazing megaphone and this amazing ability to communicate—would you cheapen your show by saying things like that?”

The doctor has some explaining to do in regards to his "flowery" language promoting miracle cures and supplements, which he claims was just part of the entertainment designed to engage an audience. In essence, Dr. Oz was challenged for making claims that he knew weren't exactly true, and Congress called upon him to stop promising miracle cures when he knows there aren't any. The most disconcerting part of this story is that it doesn't appear that Dr. Oz was profiting from the companies who were selling the products he endorsed. He certainly never promoted specific companies, and he wasn't selling his own products. It's almost as if the "good student" mentality led Dr. Oz's ego to a desire to be the guy with all the answers. If there was a miracle cure, then Dr. Oz wanted to get credit for turning the nation on to the information. Even if it was nothing but bad medicine.

There is not miracle cure, especially for weight loss. And while foods/drinks such as goji berries or green tea certainly have value, they aren't what Dr. Oz led people to believe. And, so, in the words of John Oliver, Dr. Oz needs to stop touting these "cures" on a show called Dr. Oz, but he could promote them on a show called "Check this s@#t out with a guy named Mehmet."

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