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TV Personality Dr. Mehmet Oz In Trouble With U.S. Senate Panel Over False Claims

Dr. Oz is well known within the health and nutrition world as one of the experts on the subject of weight loss among many other things that he speaks about on his nationally renowned television program and website.  Recently, the United States Panel has had to investigate certain advertisements and promotions for a fraudulent diet aid, and bogus claims that Oz has made regarding their “miraculous” nature. Oz has even had his family try some of the supplements being talked about on his show, and insists that they are good for short term use to stabilize weight and work toward a healthier life. CBC News reports: “Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, the chairwoman of the Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, said Oz had a role in perpetuating weight-loss fraud through his show.”

He has stated on more than one occasion that he truly believes in the power that these products have on the battle against obesity and on overall wellness, but the senate panel has other thoughts on the matter.

Consumer Protection Panel

Headed by Senetor Claire McCaskill, Chairwoman of the Consumer Protection Committee, the panel looked into false claims being made by Dr. Oz regarding many of the products that he has appear on his show. Among these extreme claims are a 48 hour detox cleanse, green coffee beans, which are said to help with weight loss, and other miracle cures for weight loss such as Garcinia Cambogia and Raspberry Ketone. These products are also being questioned by the Federal Trade Commission, which is there to protect consumers from buying items under false information. Jen Christensen and Jacque Wilson of CNN write: “In May, the FTC sued the sellers of Green Coffee Beans for deceiving consumers through fake news sites and invented health claims.”

The FTC has reported that after Dr. Oz spoke about the coffee beans and other products on his television program, companies and distributers began using the videos and quotes as part of an advertising plan to sell more of the product and ensure the public that their use is healthy and beneficial. Unfortunately for them, much of the evidence that supports these products, particularly the coffee beans is quite weak.

Why This Is Such A Problem

Dr. Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon as well as a professor in the department of surgery at Columbia University, so any claim that he makes is going to be taken seriously whether it’s reported on television or not, but by including his opinion on these products over national television he is furthering the confusion. Other council members, senators, and government officials have recognized this as a problem, and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill states on her website: “Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada acknowledged the problem, citing the potential for widespread confusion when a person they believe has credibility on the issue makes a claim.”

This confusion gives false hope to consumers and provides them with information from a “trusted” source. Although most people recognize that not everything you hear on T.V. can be taken for truth, many people will believe in what they are told by authority figures such as doctors, police officers, or government officials, which makes the claims made by Dr. Oz that much more dangerous to the typical viewer.

Oz’s Claims

Although Dr. Oz has never publically endorsed any particular company or product brand by name, he has been scolded by state senators and the FTC for telling his viewers information that he knows as a doctor aren’t possibly true. The problem that the panel seems to have isn’t with Oz featuring these supplements on his program, but with the fact that he exaggerates their abilities. Jennifer C. Kerr of MSN News explains: “Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, acknowledged that his language about green coffee and other supplements has been "flowery" and promised to publish a list of specific products he thinks can help America shed pounds and get healthy — beyond eating less and moving more.”

Weeks after Oz made claims regarding the green coffee bean supplement; companies began marketing and producing products based on his claims. One saving grace in the debacle seems to be that Dr. Oz has taken no money from any of these companies for promoting their products, proving that he isn’t incorporating the information for personal gain.

Making a Master List

The list mentioned above was suggested during the panel by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, to deter consumers from seeing the general claims made on the show and then seeking products over the internet rather than choosing items that have been proven safe and effective by doctors. Oz responded in saying that he had thought about making a list before and now would be a good time to do so in order to clear the air around the subject matter and make it easier for his viewers to find safe products approved by him. This list will take some of the confusion out of the generalized exaggeration behind supplements and focus more on cold hard facts, which will give the FTC and the Consumer Protection Committee at ease about the subject.

Although the panel and senators seemed critical of Dr. Oz’s choices and the way that he represented them, they also expressed that he was a respected member of the medical community and a positive contributor to society. They simply seem to be questioning his choice of words and the generalization of supplements that appear on the show.


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