Dr. Oz has been in the news lately and not just for his successful television show. He has been asked to step down as faculty at Columbia School of Medicine for “egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments.” This is not the first time Dr. Oz has been called on the carpet for misleading hopeful viewers. However, it is the first time that so many physicians and medical professionals have called for his dismissal from his faculty post. Dr. Oz’s rebuttal cited free speech and giving people hope. Free speech granted to us in the first amendment is the bedrock of our freedom as Americans. It protects us from government censorship. It is not meant to allow medical professionals to give false and misleading advice, no matter how much they want to give people hope.
The bottom line is that simple sound health advice is not enough to fill a daily television show. Eat more fruits and vegetables, don’t smoke, get activity – all messages that are appropriate for us all but not sexy enough to boost ratings. A new miracle cure for obesity –green coffee bean extract, raspberry ketones, garcinia cambogia…now that will keep us watching – whether it is true or whether it works is left behind for tomorrow’s new batch of health tips. By the way, in his testimony to congress even Dr. Oz said that much of what he talks about on his show may not pass scientist scrutiny and that there is “no magic pill for weight loss.”
Just how much of what Dr. Oz says is credible? A study published in the British Medical Journal examined 40 random episodes of Dr. Oz and from those shows looked at 80 random pieces of advice. Over 50% – OVER HALF of the recommendations that were examined were either wrong or not found anywhere in the literature. Many of the recommendations that were found in the literature were only in a small number of studies or case studies.
Dr. Oz, and others like him, use their successful television shows and celebrity platform to dish out daily doses of health and medical information. These shows give people incorrect information and false hope that a pill or potion can help them lose weight or be healthier. They further fuel the thought that there must be a way around healthy eating and physical activity – this is simply not true. Turn off the hype TV and turn on to healthy eating and physical activity. Not a sexy message, not one that would raise ratings, but one that continues to be the science and the truth about weight management.