|June 25, 2014|
Previously published on June 20, 2014
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)—the chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection—went after Dr. Mehmet Oz—the enormously popular talk-show host—for endorsing some questionable nutrition supplements.
While his day-time health show reaches millions, Dr. Oz has come under fire for endorsing some nutrition supplements with dubious efficacy. One of those products was green coffee bean extract, a substance derived from coffee that is marketed as a weight-loss supplement.
In a 2012 broadcast Dr. Oz claimed, “This little bean has scientists saying they have found a magic weight-loss cure for every body type. It's green coffee beans, and, when turned into a supplement—this miracle pill can burn fat fast.”
Never mind the only scientists saying that were ones paid by a company that produces green-coffee extract. After the broadcast, Oz's likeness has appeared on countless Web advertisements for products that included the ingredient.
In a business sense, Oz doesn't endorse these products, and has fought back against companies using his image and words on advertising. But still, they proliferate. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission brought suit against a green-coffee extract company for bogus weight-loss claims, which included Oz's "miracle" endorsement. A 2013 New Yorker profile was particularly scathing in its criticism of Oz's scientific scrutiny. "By freely mixing alternatives with proven therapies, Oz makes it nearly impossible for the viewer of his show to assess the impact of either; the process just diminishes the value of science."
On Tuesday, Oz was on Capitol Hill to testify on a Senate hearing about such weight loss scams, and to address his role in providing fodder for false advertisements.
During the hearing, Oz was adamant that he is not involved in the sale of any nutritional supplement, and said he has stopped using overblown words like "miracle" on his program. But Oz demurred in answering McCaskill's questions, which included the equally sharp "why would you cheapen your show by saying things like that?" and the assertion that "the scientific community is almost monolithic against you."