This past week has not been a good one, for daytime medical talk show host Dr Mehmet Oz. He was called before congress by senator Claire McCaskill, to answer for his backing of many diet products that turned out to be as effective as magic beans for the given purpose (weight loss!).
Here is a link to the interview in question, linked from senator McCaskill’s youtube channel.
While you are on the video, take a scroll down though the comment section. Dr Oz has many fans present, but their grasp of the situation seems at best, quite biased. But I will get back to that later.
The first thing I want to say on this story is, in all honesty, I am not surprised. This is likely true for many people.
I used to be a quite avid watcher of his show (as well as the Dr. Phil spin off “The Doctor’s”). Back before the DVR I would catch an episode when I could. And after the DVR, I almost never missed an episode.
But at some point between 2011 (or so) and now, I grew disinterested. To the point, where I erased the show from my series recording queue (The Doctor’s went to).
Partly, because I watched the programs, but never transitioned any of the information into my daily life. And partly because Dr Oz begun to show serious illegitimacy.
Keep in mind, I have no bone to pick with “The Doctor’s”. They may or may not have their own problems (you be the judge), but overall, I did not find any issues with that program.
But my grievances with Dr Oz, though mostly just small things, are very large in number. Many have likely been long forgotten, but here is a short list:
– it seemed that he was “angry” about something, every fourth episode
– within one of these segments of “anger”, he spoke about a certain kind of vitamin water which up set him in its (seemingly) unclear marketing. He had apparently been drinking it and since, started having trouble sleeping. Later he found that the product had caffeine in it.
Though the brand is not mentioned, I have a guess that I know which one it is, having consumed it myself. Not for any health benefits, but just out of thirst for something other then tap water. I will not NAME the product (im not selling anything), but it has yellow on the label (all the products in that line have a white and a different color on the labels), its name on the bottle is “energy” (or something similar), and most important of all, its caffeine content is ON THE LABEL.
Which means that apparently Dr Oz did an entire segment, based on the fact that he didn’t bother to read the label on a product he purchased (presumably) at an ordinary convenience store.
– He expressed utter surprise, upon learning that some people in the United States (even in the suburbs!), are starving. Meaning that the after effects of the 2008 crash, apparently flew right under his radar. Also insulting to anyone that had been on the bottom of the economic ladder pre 2008.
– When an audience member (or a viewer) approached him about their “stress level” being raised at the hand of their husband apparently being stingy with the households money (criticizing purchases they seen as unnecessary), Dr Oz’s advice was to essentially, lay off. Apparently no matter what the results of out of control purchasing can have on a family (debt?!), its still better for ones health then, being financially smart.
– Despite hearing him condemn the ills of fast food since pretty much I first started watching him all those years ago, he did one small segment on “how to eat healthy at the drive thru”. For the segment, he interviewed a fairly popular youtube fast food critic, who (you guessed it) gained much of his popularity from critiquing drive thru fast food. Having openly admitted to never cooking anything in his life, Dr Oz proceeded to teach him (and his viewers) how to make better choices when at the drive thru window.
It is correct, that it is a choice on the part of the people, if they choose to use this advice. But it is the fact that he gave NO criticism of the activity whatsoever, that bothers me. He all but gave it the “Dr Oz Approved” label.
Sure, people will not want to hear the truth (“YOUR AN ADULT AND YOU CAN’T EVEN COOK FOR YOURSELF?!”). However, if he took his medical ethics as seriously as he wants us to believe he does, this should not matter. The job of a doctor should be to give it to you straight, NOT to blow smoke up your ass.
– There was one segment where he talked about sugar, a product that he advised his audience that they should remove from their households. Having done a bit of my own research on the topic of the saturation of sugar in our food supply, I actually agree with him on this. I have myself, been doing what I can to reduce my daily sugar intake, with some success. Im down from where I was last year, but I still fall off the wagon more often then I would like (the trick is, try not to beat yourself up. Its only human to slip up in terms of any habit or addiction).
Having said that, there was a later episode where he took on artificial sweeteners (in particular, aspartame). He outlined many of the risks of taking them (cancer being one of aspartames), as well as some undesired side affects triggered by them (for example, an craving for sugar or sweets, since the diet fix didn’t quench it).
After explaining all that, he gave a number of alternatives to the most problematic ones. If I remember right, stevia was on the list (I use that in my morning coffee as a sugar replacement). Another was, ordinary sugar.
As said before, this is only what I can think of off the top of my head, so there is likely more that I have long since forgotten. But I had seen enough. If I assume the best, he is completely out of the loop as per what ordinary citizens of the nation are going though. If I assume the worst, he is in the pocket of some entities out only to make a buck. Possibly even in damage control mode, after his powerful platform stomped on many big toes (fast food? sugar?).
That last bit is, conspiracy at best. Either way, Dr Oz has many things to answer for. And I am glad that congress called him out on some of it (even if its just the tip of the iceberg).
All of the above, is just my opinion. But interestingly enough, it is not just me that has found reason to scrutinize Dr Oz.
Not to long ago, I watched “Marketplace” (CBC) put Dr Oz’s “Ultimate Detox Solution” to the test . The test involved 2 groups of college students, one serving as the “control” group who would make no changes to their dietary intake. And the other were the test subjects, who took the week long challenge in its entirety. Long story short (and not at all surprising, at least to me) was that the lab technician could not tell the difference between the blood samples from the control group, and the actual test subjects. Both had more or less identical levels of various “toxins” that the diet was supposed to purge.
At this point, I have plenty of reasons to at least, be skeptical of the words and advice of Dr Oz, as does everyone else. In fact, we should ALWAYS be skeptical of people alike him, who make their living by acting as advisers of our personal wellbeing. It is YOUR body we are talking about, so it is not at all unjustified. If the person or group is actually credible and ethical, then they should not be worried at this scrutiny, as they have nothing to worry about.
Yet judging by the reaction of many in the public, there seems to be more emphasis on protecting him, then there is on the ethics of many of his past actions. One of the most obvious places to see this, is in the comment section of senator McCaskill’s video .
Looking there, you see many different opinions that seem to just, push aside the controversy. One person claims a push from big pharma is the reason Dr Oz testified before congress. Another judges and decides based on the weight of the debaters (Senator McCaskill = overweight. Dr Oz = fit. Therefore Dr Oz wins!).
Yet another, simply brings up the fact that more people trust Dr Oz then trust congress.
I know that I am a very cynical person, and many (most?) of my entries are written from this point of view. And being that I try to live by the same principals, daily life is not always a fun place to be. People that see past the veil, and openly share what they see, are not popular.
And yet, the trusting nature of many within our population, is routinely manipulated and exploited. Ignorance ,friendliness and gullibility are excellent traits, for anyone who knows how to manipulate them. And these people are not always on the wrong side of the law either.
Religous leaders and psychics, are on the “legal” side. As are, people like Dr Oz.
Which brings to mind, another thing. When it comes to psychics and such people (even wannabe doomsday prophets of the modern age), we give them a lot of flack (rightly!), when they get it wrong, or otherwise slip up. We certainly look down on them, if they extract any amount of money out of people in the process.
Yet, despite having the same thing happen with many products swept up in “The Oz Affect”, it is only now, that we are hearing backlash. And not only that, it is the government, that seems to be going against the people (Oz’s fans). The people that should be most angry (many of which im guessing got duped by such products in the past), are in denial.
This post, is not meant to paint ALL the said shows (alike Dr Oz’s), with the same brush. I am sure that there are those that do work hard to keep their focus on the patients (as opposed to the pocketbook). But you have to be able to hold such people to high standards. If there is ANYONE that you should have 100% trust in, it is your doctor (or anyone standing in that place).
If your actions betray more faith then trust in a prominent medical professional you often utilize in life, then you really should rethink your loyalty. If ANYONE in your life has you more on the defensive then anything, then you really need to re-evaluate the circumstances.
Its not rude, its common sense.