Thursday, June 19, 2014

Losing Lbs., one Oz at a time

I haven’t watched a lot of Dr. Oz.

When it comes to TV doctors, I prefer the old fashioned kind – Jim Kildare, Marcus Welby, Doug Ross, and even Greg House. In other words, fake doctors who stick to doctoring, and don’t’ get caught up in being celebrities.

Oh, I don’t mind the occasional commentary by Dr. Nancy Snyderman on NBC, or our local version, Dr. Mallika Marshall. But, when it comes to my personal health, mostly I’ll take my doctors straight, one-on-one, focused on me and my health, even if it’s only for the duration of my breeze-in-breeze-out appointment.

Sure, I’ll look online – Mayo Clinic, WebMD – for information, but I don’t want to get my medical advice from a “personality.”

So, to me, a little Dr. Oz goes a mighty long way. Decidedly not my medical cup of tea.

Thus, I wasn’t exactly upset to see him getting a bit slapped around when he appeared before the U.S. Senate Commerce subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, which he did earlier this week.

The hearings were on slimy miracle diet cures.

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. (Source: The Hill)

Green coffee extract, eh?

Why am I having a flashback to Steve McQueen trying (unsuccessfully) to treat his cancer with coffee enemas?

Okay, you can’t blame Steve McQueen for making a last ditch effort to save his life, whatever the quackery involved.

But McQueen was an actor, and Oz is a bona fide doctor.

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.

So, where does cheerleader end off and charlatan pick up?

“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].”

Getting people to lose weight by eating less and exercising more – which, as far as I can tell, is the only sure-fire way to lose weight – is absolutely for the good. So why isn’t cheerleading around eating less and exercising more enough?

Oh, silly me.

It’s not enough because a) it’s boring, and b) we all want a miracle cure. Hey, let me slurp down some green coffee extract – while parked on my couch watching Dr. Oz (and Dr. Phil, while I’m at it). It’s a hell of a lot easier than eating just one Cheeto and doing a few sit ups. Maybe even use that green coffee to wash down a sleeve of Oreos.

But Dr. Oz, apparently, needs more than just old-fashioned pompoms and megaphones, and the chant of give-me-a-d for diet.

“When I can't use language that is flowery, that is exulting, I feel like I've been disenfranchised,” he added.

The “exulting” language that’s in question was Oz having categorized green coffee extract as “a magic weight loss cure for every body type.”

Oz is careful not to endorse specific products, but he does get all enthused about general categories. He then gets ticked off when specific products in those general categories use his “exulting” claims as endorsements, probably because he doesn’t make any money off of it.

The lead senator on the attack was Claire McCaskill:

“The scientific community is almost monolithically against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called ‘miracles,’ ” she said.

Oz didn’t exactly back down, defending himself by claiming that he doesn’t endorse any approach he doesn’t believe in.

And, of course, cheerleading, exulting, and flowery speech is what gets you higher ratings than a calm and boring old Marcus Welby would get by telling you to stop eating chocolate and get off your arse and get moving. Take it from someone who really does need to shed ten lbs., one oz. – not Oz – at a time.

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