Dr. Oz to Testify on Diet Scams

Dr. Oz to Testify on Diet Scams June 15, 2014

Orac reports that he has lost yet another irony meter because Dr. Oz, probably the foremost purveyor of fraudulent diet scams in the country and maybe the world, is going to testify in front of a Senate committee as an expert in diet scams. I wish I were making this up, but here’s part of the press release from Sen. Claire McCaskill:

WASHINGTON – As millions of Americans fall prey each year to weight-loss diet scams, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill-who chairs the Senate’s Consumer Protection panel-will lead a hearing next Tuesday with testimony from Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the Dr. Oz Show, to examine deceptive advertising of weight-loss products and to determine what more can be done to protect consumers.

McCaskill’s hearing follows recent enforcement actions against companies engaged in deceptive advertising of weight-loss products. Last month the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it is suing the Florida-based company, Pure Green Coffee, alleging that it capitalized on the green coffee bean diet fad by using bogus weight-loss claims and fake news websites to market its dietary supplement. The FTC claimed that weeks after green coffee was promoted on the Dr. Oz Show, Pure Green Coffee began selling their Pure Green Coffee extract, charging $50 for a one-month supply.

Additionally, the FTC in January announced $34 million in settlements against marketers of fraudulent weight-loss products who deceived consumers with baseless claims. And the FTC issued updated guidance for publishers and broadcasters on how to spot phony weight-loss claims when screening ads for publication.

Orac replies:

With all due respect, Sen. McCaskill owes me a new irony meter. She fried that sucker flat, leaving nothing but a sputtering, sizzling, bubbling blob of qoo with a few copper wires sticking out of it. Dr. Oz testifying about weight loss scams? That’s like asking Al Capone to testify about U.S. tax policy or Stanislaw Burzynski about clinical trial design and ethics. Seriously. The only thing useful that having Dr. Oz testify in front of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection would be to use him as an example of weight loss scams being promoted to millions of people every day through irresponsible television shows.

I mean, seriously. Think about it. McCaskill is touting the FTC’s crackdown on companies selling green coffee bean extract and advertising it with bogus weight loss claims while at the same time respectfully listening to the one person most responsible for fanning the flames of the “green coffee bean craze” to reach new heights of burning stupid. She’s featuring Dr. Oz as though he were an expert at anything other than selling such scams to credulous viewers while disingenuously claiming to be the aggrieved party when companies understandably start using his breathless quotes about various weight loss supplements to hawk their products and even going so far as to brag about the team of enforcers he’s assembled to go after such companies.

And that’s just the tip of Oz’s fraudulent iceberg:

If there’s one thing that Dr. Oz is probably most known for, if there’s one scam that Dr. Oz most frequently features on his show, it’s weight loss scams. Most hilariously, recently, Oz went all “under cover,” as though he thought he were Morly Safer and Dan Rather on the 60 Minutes of old (back before Lara Logan, of course), showing up at the office of a ne’er-do-well to confront him in his lair with evidence of his perfidy. It’s the ne’er-do-well he confronted that blew my irony meter. Specifically, it was manufacturers of a supplement, Garcinia Gambogia, which a company had claimed to be endorsed by Dr. Oz. While it’s true that Dr. Oz never endorsed the specific brand of Garcinia Gambogia that the company sold, it’s not hard to figure out where companies get the idea that Dr. Oz recommends Garcinia Gambogia as a weight loss miracle, given that Dr. Oz’s selling of the supplement was described thusly:

As people were getting ready for the holiday season and its accompanying waist expansion late last year, Dr. Mehmet Oz let viewers of his TV show in on a timely little secret. “Everybody wants to know what’s the newest, fastest fat buster,” said the board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon and one of People magazine’s sexiest men alive. “How can I burn fat without spending every waking moment exercising and dieting?”

He then told his audience about a “breakthrough,” “magic,” “holy grail,” even “revolutionary” new fat buster. “I want you to write it down,” America’s doctor urged his audience with a serious and trustworthy stare. After carefully wrapping his lips around the exotic words “Garcinia cambogia,” he added, sternly: “It may be the simple solution you’ve been looking for to bust your body fat for good.”

Then there was the “green coffee bean” incident, in which Dr. Oz, in his eagerness to promote green coffee bean extract as yet another “miracle” weight loss supplement, conducted what was in essence a small unethical clinical trial and touted the results of a company-run clinical trial that did not show nearly as strongly what he claimed it showed. This bogus trial is still featured on Dr. Oz’s website as The Green Coffee Bean Project.

If Dr. Oz doesn’t get grilled relentlessly by the members of that committee, they will have proven that celebrity matters more to them than anything else.

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