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Friday, 20 June 2014 08:32

Dr. Oz Grilled by Senate Over False Weight Loss Claims

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This week Dr. Mehmet Oz, teleginic host of "The Dr. Oz Show" was grilled on Capitol Hill for making false claims about weight loss products.

Dr. Oz promotes products such as green coffee beans and garcinia cambogia (brindle berry) as miracle fat-burning cures that can achieve easy weight loss without diet or exercise. According to WebMD, there is insufficient evidence that garcinia causes weight loss. Although Dr. Oz doesn't sell the dubious products himself, his endorsements often lead to what is known as the "Dr. Oz effect" which popularizes these so-called miracle cures.

Dr. Oz testified before Congress that he is not responsible for what companies say about their products. But many of the companies pushing their bogus products use quotes, claims and video clips from The Dr. Oz show to support their advertising. Oz is a bona fide surgeon and a national figure, which makes his claims all the worse because he has the power to mislead so many overweight and obese dieters. Under grilling from Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who claimed the Oz effect dramatically boosts sales and drives scam artists to "pop up overnight using false and deceptive ads," Dr. Oz admitted some responsibility but said "to not have the conversation about supplements ... would be a disservice to the viewer."

False claims about weight loss products are a big problem for those trying to lose weight. According to CNN, "The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate weight loss supplements. Under current law, companies selling these products do not need FDA approval before marketing them to the public." The Federal Trade Commission has the power to stop false and misleading ads, but it is difficult to keep up with the proliferation of phony diet products.

With two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese, it's time to start taking obesity seriously. We can't do that with national figures touting miracle cures. Losing weight may not be easy, because it requires a lifestyle change. We have to watch calories and follow nutrition guidelines. There is no miracle cure! Oz promotes the idea that you can lose weight without effort. That is a dangerous idea which leads to failure and discouragement. As with other lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking, first you must really commit to doing it. Running after one miracle cure or another is not a commitment, it is more like running away from the problem. Don't be fooled by false diet ad claims!

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