Oh, Dr. Oz….it seems like you either love him or hate him. I remember years ago, when Dr. Oz sprang into daytime television, capturing the hearts of so many. I was one of them. He was charismatic. He presented information in an easy to understand way. He seemed like a guy you wanted to be friends with-to have lengthy conversations with over scrumptious homemade dinners.
That feeling changed for me when the show took a disheartening, and worrisome turn. Dr. Oz began to present and advocate more and more products on the show, touting their “miracle” health benefits. A good majority of these products have been for weight loss pills and supplements (It’s important to note that weight loss supplements are not regulated by the FDA.) . Many of these products haven’t been researched well enough to prove their effectiveness or do have research that disproves their outlandish claims.
My issue is not solely with the products he promotes. It’s that he speaks in absolutes-i.e. ‘This new craze weight loss system will work for EVERYONE’. In general, health professionals should know that health is an individualized and intricate process with many different factors. Beyond that, Oz seems to use questionable research to validate his claims. (Check out this review about some of the supplements Oz talks about.)
Recently, Dr. Mehmet Oz has come under fire and was called to Capitol Hill by the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Subcommittee. The panel was called to discuss his advocation for products that have faced legal action from the FTC for “unfair or deceptive advertising and marketing practices that raise health and safety concerns.” This isn’t the first time that Dr. Oz’s practices have been questioned.
Now some will say that the public has a certain responsibility to use common sense in regard to interpreting and following advice such as that seen on the Dr. Oz show. Well, yes and no. Yes, we have a responsibility to use common sense when any Ole Joe tells us that drinking only lemon juice and cayenne pepper is healthy. But what about when that Ole Joe has the initials, M.D. following his name?
So what about Dr. Oz? Is he wrong?
Some say yes, some say no, each for specific and differing reasons.
Here’s my thought, if Oz was just an entertainer, just a talk show host, the story may be different. But the fact of the matter is that Dr. Oz is a licensed medical doctor. The public is just in believing that he should have a person’s best interest in mind regarding their health.
As a health professional myself, I can’t get behind someone who tells millions of viewers that Green Coffee Beans will help them lose weight when there isn’t solid research behind these claims and when that company has been found to have fabricated those claims. Or when the same man made the even more outlandish claim about another supplement saying that in order to lose weight there is “No Exercise. No Diet. No Effort” all you have to do is take a “magic” pill.
Yes, the show is produced for entertainment purposes, but it’s also designed as an informative means to deliver health and medical advice to the masses, one that is lead by a practicing and licensed M.D. Yes, people have a certain level of personal responsibility in not believing everything they hear, doing their own research, and speaking with their medical provider. However, health information coming from a medical doctor should be sound, well researched, and proven advice-which many segments of the Dr. Oz show are not. And that my friends is deceiving.
So what does it all come down to? Yes, I hope that Dr. Oz uses this experience to reevaluate and adjust his practices. And I hope that people begin and continue to question what they hear, to do some research, to ask questions, to be curious. And finally, I hope that as health professionals we hold ourselves to a higher standard, and practice honest and ethical methods.
P.S. Do the research for yourself. (See an overview of literature about weight loss supplements here.)
P.S.S. Not everything Dr. Oz promotes is bad or ineffective. He does give some very sound health advice. Just take everything you hear about magical or miracle products with a grain of salt.
In good health, Sam
What are your thoughts about the Dr. Oz show?
Have you noticed questionable practices like this elsewhere?
What are your hopes for the health industry?