Currently in its fifth season, the "Dr. Oz Show" has won three Daytime Emmy awards for cardiac surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz. Known for frequently promoting weight loss supplements as "miracles" on his talk show, however, Dr. Oz was forced to defend his claims before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, reported the Consumerist.
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, challenged Dr. Oz during the hearing about weight-loss product advertisements. She expressed concern that his tendency to dramatize the benefits of diet supplements such as raspberry ketones on his talk show escalates the tendency of unscrupulous product companies to peddle products using false claims.
"When you feature a product on your show, it creates what has become known as ‘Oz Effect,’ dramatically boosting sales and driving scam artists to pop up overnight using false and deceptive ads to sell questionable products," the Senator stated. "I’m concerned that you are melding medical advice, news and entertainment in a way that harms consumers."
Dr. Oz was quick to defend himself. "I do personally believe in the items that I talk about on the show," he insisted.
The Senator questioned three different products that Dr. Oz recently promoted. About green coffee extract, he said: "You may think magic is make-believe, but this little bean has scientists saying they found the magic weight-loss for every body type."
And although Dr. Oz insists that he does not endorse specific brands, marketers advertise them with his name. Example: "Pure Green Coffee Bean Extract 800 mg with Svetol, GCA and 50% Chlorogenic Acids - Dr. Oz Recommended for Natural Weight Loss As Seen on TV."
Dr. Oz stressed that he tries to warn viewers of his talk show about avoiding such claims. But the Senate session turned into an inquiry about his integrity in making his own exaggerated promises about products.
Referring to raspberry ketones, for example, Dr. Oz announced on his show: "I've got the number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat." The result: Products with marketing slogans such as "Raspberry Ketones 500 mg Fresh Weight Loss and Fat Burning Supplement Plus Appetite Suppressant As Seen on Dr. Oz."
But as the Senator urged the physician to be aware of the potential for scam artists to profit from his talk show claims, he asked her to appreciate what he sees as the opportunity to help people jump-start much-needed weight loss plans. Dr. Oz sees his repeated "miracle" supplement discoveries as encouragement.
"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 wanna look — and I do look — everywhere… for any evidence that might be supportive to them," said Dr. Oz. Example: Referring to garcinia cambogia, he promised, "It may be the simple solution you've been looking for to bust your body fat for good."
But he did appear to recognize that those talk show pronouncements directly result in products advertised with slogans "As Seen on the Dr. Oz Show." Moreover, the extravagant labels often echo his own verbiage about being safe and effective, such as: "Purest Garcinia Cambogia Extract, Safe and Effective Weight Loss Supplement."
And while he did not use the words "placebo effect," Dr. Oz added that supplements such as green coffee extract can provide "the confidence to keep going." He also noted that he blames advertisers and doesn't feel it's his fault that they take advantage of the situation.
“In the intent to engage viewers, I use flowery language. I used language that was very passionate that ended up being not very helpful but incendiary and it provided fodder for unscrupulous advertisers," complained Dr. Oz.