Shunning the separation of church and state, senators on Capitol Hill took Dr. Mehmet Oz, celebrity host of "The Dr. Oz Show," to task for his proselytizing about the supernatural powers of fat-busting, metabolism-smashing, magic-making miracles in a bottle.
OK, we know Oz isn’t really suggesting that divine agency is behind green coffee beans, raspberry ketones, yacon syrup and the like; but he certainly does throw the word “miracle” around a lot. Which is why Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri — chairwoman of the subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance — put Oz on the hot seat and gave him a pretty good talking-to.
"The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called 'miracles'," said McCaskill.
Noting her disappointment with the “false hope” his flowery claims give to people struggling with weight loss, she questioned his “role, intentional or not, in perpetuating these scams," according to a news release from the Missouri senator’s office.
"I can't figure this out," McCaskill said. "I get that you do a lot of good on your show. I understand that you give a lot of information that's great information ... you're very talented and you're obviously very bright. You've been trained in science-based medicine; I don't get why you need to say this stuff when you know it's not true. When you have this amazing megaphone, why would you cheapen your show? With power comes a great deal of responsibility."
Oz agreed that his passion has led to enthusiastic claims, but he said that he believes in them and is only giving advice he’d give to his own family.
"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," Oz said in his defense.
He added that he had no commercial stake in any of the products and testified that he was not responsible for what supplement companies say about their products; nor did he endorse any products, even if his name and face are used extensively in the promotion of them. He said that he’s now considering every word he chooses and will publish a list of products he believes to be truly effective in helping people lose weight.
"To not have the conversation about supplements at all however would be a disservice to the viewer," Oz said in a statement following the grilling. "In addition to exercising an abundance of caution in discussing promising research and products in the future, I look forward to working with all those present today in finding a way to deal with the problems of weight-loss scams."
In the meantime, we’ve got a real weight-loss miracle to share with you: Diet and exercise. You’ll be amazed by its power.
CNN reports on the hearing in the video below:
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