Monday, June 23, 2014

The Oz Difference

On June 17 Dr. Oz appeared before a Senate committee to testify.  He was supposed to be helping with an investigation to fight Internet scammers peddling weight-loss pills and programs.  Instead the discussion turned into a critique of some of the methods he uses on his television program.  As CBS news described it:  "Oz testified at a Senate hearing Tuesday on deceptive advertising for over-the-counter diet supplements and products," but it turned into him defending "his right to suggest ways to kick-start weight loss by using products that are easily available online but have little data to back up their claims."

Senators pointed out, with video clips from his own show, how often he uses words like"magic" and "miracle" to promote questionable products such as green coffee beans.  An NBC reporter said that "at times he sounded like a pitch man" for these dubious products rather than like a scientist.  When confronted, he admitted that it was his "intent to engage viewers" thus using "flowery language, language that was very passionate."  In other words, he was trying to please the audience by telling people what they wanted to hear."

Near the end of the NBC segment a Federal Trade Commission spokesperson warns to be wary of these too-good-to-be-true weight-loss products and programs.  "The only thing you are going to lose is your money."  This is followed by Dr. Oz quietly (certainly not passionately) saying, "The basis of long-term well-being is diet and exercise.  It always has been and probably always will be."

This is what I have been saying for the 3+ years that I have been writing these essays.  That's the difference between me and Dr. Oz.  I do not tell you what you want to hear, the easy answers, but what you should hear, that real change, real improvement, the real solutions for America's problems come from the hard work of improved behavior.

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