In a rare show of honesty, Dr. Oz admits what he really thinks about the stuff he pushes on his show. For some of us, it won’t come as a surprise.
The Venerable Dr. Oz
If you have been to my site before you know I wondered about Dr. Oz more than once. Remember his peculiar math when telling the world about raspberry ketone?
Now he had a chance to set the record straight. Following a FTC crackdown on diet scam products, a Senate subcommittee on consumer protection invited him, stating that his popularity made him an important tool in selling diet products to people.
The committee’s chairman, Senator Claire McCaskill, brought it to a point:
I can’t figure this out. I understand that you give a lot of great information about health in a way that’s easily understandable. You’re very talented, you’re obviously very bright, and you’ve been trained in science-based medicine. Now, here are three statements you made on your show:
‘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.’
I also wrote about green coffee bean extract, but missed the garcinia cambogia. As I said before, it’s hard to keep up with the miracles Oz proclaims on his show.
The Truth About Green Coffee Bean Extract
But let’s stay with the coffee beans, because he really spilled them. McCaskill told Oz he knows what he said about them is not true (here is the archived webcast of the hearing), that there is tons of research disagreeing with his superlative statements. He replied:
If I could disagree about whether they work or not and I’ll move on to the issue of the words that I used. I’m not going to argue it would pass FDA muster if it were a drug seeking approval, but, among the natural products out there, this is a product that has several clinical trials.
Several clinical trials? To my knowledge there are two: one done by a company selling green coffee bean extract, and one conducted in India under equally questionable circumstances.
When McCaskill pointed that out to him, Oz claimed to have several more (which I’d love to see), but very quickly steered toward philosophical relativization:
We could spend a lot of time arguing the merits of whether coffee bean extract is worth trying or not. […] It is remarkably complex, as you know, to figure out what works for a dietary program.
So why did he, on his show, never say, “I have green coffee bean extract here, I believe it can help you lose weight, but it may or may not.” Why was it instead a “magic weight loss cure for every body type”? Can he see the difference?
Dr. Oz Admits The Truth About His Job
But he can justify all of it. Because this is how he sees his role toward consumers:
My job, I feel, on the show is to be a cheerleader for the audience, and when they don’t think they have hope, when they don’t think they can make it happen, I want to look, and I do look everywhere, including in alternative healing traditions, for any evidence that might be supportive to them.
It reminds me of Charles Revson, founder of cosmetics company Revlon, who once remarked that his company doesn’t sell cosmetics, but hope. Dr. Oz sells hope as well: the hope of losing weight without personal effort.