Thursday, June 19, 2014

I don't believe in magic but I do believe in Dr Oz

Earlier this week Dr Oz appeared before the Senate’s committee on consumer protection. Senator Claire McCaskill took Oz to task for some of the weight loss products he has suggested on his show. Almost immediately following this there was a wave of Dr Oz bashing. People on my Facebook feed were declaring they “loved this senator” who grilled Dr Oz even though they probably knew as much (or little) about her as the  green coffee bean extract Dr Oz was under fire for.

Does Dr Oz use words like “miracle” and “magic”? He does. He has a television show. I would venture to say he’s not running into the operating room speaking this way. I'll never forget something from when I did my media training. I’m not a naturally hyper person but we did a take where I was about as animated as this Foodtrainer can get. I was smiling and enthusiastic (and as real as my hair color/ not so much). When I finished the person teaching me said, “Ok, now do it again but with much more energy” Dr Oz has that energy.

Before you say it’s not just Dr Oz’s passion it’s the topics on the show. Have you watched the show? The last three times I’ve been on we’ve talked about quinoa, label lies on cereal boxes and frozen food. Now if millions of people go out and purchase quinoa or have learned what a GMO ingredient is- why aren’t we talking about that? Isn’t that part of what’s been dubbed “the Dr Oz effect”?

As far as scientific rigor, I once learned an important lesson from Dr Oz that I think I’ve written about. I was interviewed for a GMA segment about a diet that was popular at the time. My office did some research, there were no sizable scientific studies and I went on air slamming the plan. Dr Oz was also interviewed and said something I’ll never forget. He said if people are getting results from something you have to take a closer look. Sometimes anecdotal evidence tells us things that studies have yet to “prove”. 

And I’m so happy the Senate has this committee to protect consumers. The same government that is outraged over raspberry ketones is fine with dangerous food dyes in children’s food, antibiotics in our meat and GMO foods side by side with “normal” ones. I wonder how MDs at the FDA or Senators with ties to Big Food would do under fire.

Please don’t say as a friend of mine did “it’s so sad Dr Oz was a brilliant surgeon”. He still is and he’s also a good man. And because I couldn’t resist, a little bit about Senator McCaskill’s “miracle” weight loss.
What do you think of the Dr Oz situation? Does he do more for good and health than evil? What do you think people love to bash? 


  1. As my husband always says, " a good name is a result of many actions and lost by one." Sorry, but Dr. Oz should have fought a little harder for his credibility. There's a huge difference between "taking a closer look" at something and calling it a magic weight loss cure. Magic, really? :)

  2. And see I think Dr Oz and his "many actions" to further the interest in nutrition, alternative medicine and health trumps calling something a miracle. Even TV viewers know there's no weight loss miracle and we know that Oprah's favorite things weren't really going to change our lives. In general though if a few slips make you lose your good name, we're all in trouble.

  3. Interesting post, Lauren. Experience dictates that there are no magic cures to weight loss...but I do think that his show is mostly positive and helps people eat healthier and live better lives.

  4. Oh my friend, I will have to disagree with you this time. MILLIONS of people ran to the store to buy raspberry ketones and coffee bean extract because they do (did) believe in miracle cures, especially those espoused by a trusted medical doctor on TV. I think many people actually believe the opposite of what you said...if it's on TV it must be true? That being said, I do think his intentions are good, he just got some really bad advice along the way.

  5. I am completely with Danielle. I've watched Dr. Oz over the years, first as he appeared only occasionally on Oprah and then as he first started his own show, and now more recently, where his show has gotten almost cartoonish.

    I'm sure he's a smart doc and a brilliant and nice guy, and I'm sure that coming up with sufficient "engaging" content to keep market share is tough, but I do NOT believe that the "good" he does gives him a pass on this.

  6. While I think the "flowery language" as Dr Oz himself described it is a little much, I think he has to talk about weight and I think he has to talk about supplements. There are so many truly dangerous supplements out there that coffee bean extract and others where there may be some truth are a decent way to go. At Foodtrainers, we're not huge supplement advocates but our clients want to know how omega 3's may help you loose body fat or coconut oil or Safslim (a supplement I initially discouraged and even as I discouraged it blog readers went out and purchased). It's a tricky place he's in.

  7. I agree with you. I'm all for a good public reprimand, but this was misplaced in my opinion. What's Dr. Oz guilty of—selling a product he believes might work for weight loss? At least he's trying to help Americans' poor health. Maybe McCaskill should have pointed the finger at the 5 food giants that own almost all our food supply and play an enormous factor in Americans' eating habits. These companies work tirelessly to ensure Americans are blind about from where their food comes and what's in it. However, I assume she had very limited choices over who to make an "example of" (as she put it) for her own obvious health failures, since I'm sure she too has had numerous campaign bribes, I mean CONTRIBUTIONS, from the 5 food giants. I don't see how his product marketing is any different from makeup or skincare ads.