It should go without saying that I am not a fan of Dr. Oz. I’ve never actually talked about him on this blog before, but I have alluded to him many times. Dr. Oz sold out a long time ago, and this isn’t surprising for an Oprah protégé. Dr. Oz has long preyed on the gullible and scientifically illiterate; indeed, I believe he contributes to this nation’s scientific illiteracy.
Dr. Oz has long been America’s leading promoter of all sorts of weight loss scams, and many other forms of quackery/alternative medicine. The fact that he is a highly accomplished physician and cardiothoracic surgeon means he should know better. Whether or not he really believes in what he promotes on his show is beside the point. Only Dr. Oz knows what he really believes deep down inside.
When I first heard that Dr. Oz was going to testify at a congressional hearing about weight-loss scams, I wasn’t expecting much. So I was thrilled when Senator McCaskill asked him a lot of tough questions, and even went so far as to accuse him of being a liar! It was fun watching him squirm! I don’t think Dr. Oz was expecting this. In the words of Senator McCaskill:
I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true. So why, when you have this amazing megaphone, and this amazing ability to communicate, why would you cheapen your show?
How many times I’ve thought of asking him questions like that! I’m sure many of you know what the “Dr. Oz effect” is. Dr. Oz mentions a new weight loss “miracle” on his show, and weight loss pill manufacturers immediately start cashing in. While Dr. Oz doesn’t make money from these pills, these types of programs certainly help boost his ratings. His audience probably wouldn’t be as big if all he ever promoted was diet and exercise for weight-loss, which is the only safe and effective weight-loss strategy. Of course, he does often mention exercising more and eating less, but it is still irresponsible of him to promote ineffective weight-loss pills to his audience. Many people watching his show get the idea that if they take these magic pills, they can eat all the bacon, cake, cookies, and ice cream they want(there’s even a sick phenomenon called “Bacon Mania“).
I find it interesting that the thing that bothers Dr. Oz the most is that his name and image are being used without his permission by unscrupulous supplement manufacturers, which makes him a “victim”. This is a legitimate concern, but what about all the people getting taken advantage of? Dr. Oz also insists that he believes in these pills, and if he was irresponsible in any way(besides using “flowery” language and being “passionate”), it was because he never told his audience to purchase pills from companies he finds reputable(I’m not sure if he will ever produce this list). This of course misses the entire point that if something doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, regardless of what company it comes from. Besides this, I hardly see Dr. Oz as a “victim”.
No one held a gun to Dr. Oz’s head and forced him to push weight-loss scams and other quackery on his show. He is not a victim. The real victims are the people who have wasted their money on the ineffective pills he’s promoted. Dr. Oz may not directly financially benefit from the pills, but he is as much a part of the problem as the pill manufacturers. Meanwhile, America continues to get fatter.
As a result of these hearings, I’m pretty sure Dr. Oz will tone things down a bit on his show to slip below the radar, but this will almost certainly hurt his ratings. I also don’t think these hearings have damaged his reputation, at least not with fans. He still has his cult-following, and I don’t believe any amount of information will sway them. For the conspiracy-minded, the fact that he was called in for questioning and asked all these tough questions is just more evidence(to them) of some vast, evil conspiracy that is trying to discredit quackery.
It’s been said so many times before, but it has to be said again: Weight loss does not come in a pill. It can only be achieved through exercise and eating less/eating more low calorie foods. Fitness is a lifestyle, not an activity. An active vegan lifestyle can be an effective weight-loss strategy.
Some great, in-depth articles about Dr. Oz: