A few days ago I lamented the fact that Dr. Oz was being called to testify in front of a Senate hearing about diet scams. I thought he was going to be allowed to make a star turn, but Sen. Claire McCaskill went after him pretty hard for being a huge part of the problem.
Senators took every opportunity to criticize Oz for endorsing certain chemicals as easy routes to weight loss, a rare show of scrutiny for a celebrity witness.
“I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told Oz in a comment typical of the hearing’s tone.
Lawmakers are taking an interest in diet fads after a string of actions by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against fraudulent players in the industry.
The FTC is currently suing a Florida company that claimed its Pure Green Coffee product would help users shed 20 pounds in four weeks.
The campaign used footage from Oz’s show where he discussed the alleged benefits of green coffee extract.
Oz, a bestselling author and cardiac surgeon, acknowledged to lawmakers that he had made the FTC’s job “more difficult,” but defended his motives.
“My job is to be a cheerleader for the audience when they don’t think they have hope,” he said.
“I have things I think work for people. I want them to try them so that they feel better, so that they can do the things we talk about every day on the show [like diet and exercise].”
“When I can’t use language that is flowery, that is exulting, I feel like I’ve been disenfranchised,” he added…
At one point, McCaskill called attention to a 2012 segment in which Oz called green coffee extract a “magic weight loss cure for every body type.”
“The scientific community is almost monolithically against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called ‘miracles,’ ” she said.
“We didn’t call this hearing to beat up on you. … [But] you can either be part of the police or be part of the problem, and we hope you’ll do a better job at being part of the police.”
Oz replied that he’s toned down his language but won’t stop recommending weight-loss remedies to the public.
He should lose his medical license. And Congress should pass a law putting these “supplements” under the jurisdiction of the FDA so that they are required to document the medical efficacy or they can’t sell them.