You may have seen it on your Facebook feed: a video of Dr. Oz getting scolded by the US Senate. It’s gotten a lot of hoopla, and you can find articles about it everywhere, most of it quite negative and, well, colourful, to say the least.
I’m going to be up front here: I like Dr. Oz, but I’m not here to defend him. In fact, I agree with everything Senator Claire McCaskill said. Please read on.
How We Met
Okay, I’ve never actually met him, even though he was in town not too long ago.
I first learned about Dr. Oz through the book he co-wrote with Dr. Michael Roizen, YOU: The Owner’s Manual. Now, if you haven’t read this book, you are missing out. I absolutely love this book and think it should be required reading for anybody human living on the planet Earth.
He and Michael Roizen have a few other books in the series, and in fact, the first one I read was, YOU: Staying Young, which I also highly recommend.
Because of these books, I developed an immense respect and admiration for Dr. Oz. Plus, he was practically Oprah’s doctor! Sold and sold.
When he got his own TV show, I thought, “Wow, that’s exciting for him! He totally deserves it.” Now, I must admit, that’s pretty much where the story ends. I don’t watch much TV, and might have only caught a grand total of 2 episodes, but I enjoyed them. If I have to watch daytime TV (i.e., I’m spending time with my grandma or my in-laws), it’s one of my first picks, along with The Doctors.
As his show progressed, I noticed that he really started to gain a cult following. I even started saying things like, “I just do whatever Dr. Oz tells me to do”, albeit jokingly. Well, half-jokingly. The many articles he contributed to magazines and websites were great, and still are, in my opinion! He’s unapologetic, and he gives sound advice when he’s speaking about general health and wellness.
“Recommended by Dr. Oz!”
I remember when that phrase used to mean something. I mean, really mean something. Then there came a point where it seemed like almost everything was recommended by Dr. Oz. I started to ignore the statement.
I also noticed that people were starting to turn it around and make snide comments about his recommendations: that somehow, because he recommended something, it most certainly wasn’t good for you. Those statements, I found unwarranted, but I can understand the thought process behind it.
Then it started to get freaky. It seemed that everywhere I looked, there he was with a smiling face and a thumbs up. Granted, I’m a wellness junkie so I spend my time reading about and exploring a lot of health + wellness products, so I’m probably exposed to more Dr. Oz endorsements than the average person is.
But here’s the not-so-funny thing: when you look closely at these endorsements, you’ll notice that they’re not endorsements at all. Weight-loss supplements are a good example: advertisers will highlight the fact that Dr. Oz has recommended an ingredient in their supplements, spinning it so that at first glance, it looks like Dr. Oz is recommending the entire supplement itself, when he isn’t.
Or, if Dr. Oz is even remotely associated with a company (by say, being a co-founder of an association that they’re part of – I don’t want to name names here), they will name drop the heck out of him! Can I blame them? No. Again, he’s got a cult following, so marketing-wise, it makes sense.
Apparently, Dr. Oz’s intention during the hearing was to seek help fighting the online companies who misappropriate his image and words, creating false endorsements for their weight loss products. Instead, the tables were turned on him, and he was told to take responsibility for the situation he found himself in. Senator McCaskill stated:
“I know that you feel that you’re a victim, but sometimes conduct invites being a victim. I think if you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized quite as frequently.” (source)
Yikes. Talk about embarrassing. (By the way, am I the only one who finds it odd that the hearing got taped? Do they tape all of their hearings? If this was a publicity stunt, it sure was a risky one.)
The vast majority of the comments I’ve read go something like this:
I knew it! He’s such a fraud!
OMG Dr. Oz is so evil! How could anyone dupe poor, innocent people like that?
What kind of a doctor is he? A real doctor wouldn’t say stuff like that!
There are also a few comments, that go something like this . . .
Okay people, let’s just get one thing clear: Dr. Oz is a physician and a surgeon. But when he’s on TV, he is not practicing medicine (that would be as impossible as it would be illegal). When he is on TV, he is a man who also happens to be an MD.
Now, of course, this is more than just coincidence – the show is called, “Dr. Oz” after all. And the screenwriters have done a pretty fantastic job at toeing the ethical line, but let’s not forget – IT’S A TV SHOW! If your family doctor told you to take a supplement, calling it a “miracle in a bottle”, you’d think twice. Why? Because that’s inappropriate medical practice. So why does it pass on TV? Because it’s TV! It’s a syndicated show! This man is not practicing medicine or counselling patients on TV. He is just a man with great credentials, starring in his own TV show.
Let me ask you something: what would you do if you were him? If you were suddenly given an amazing platform from which to spread your message? What if, for some bizarre reason, the network required your show to have good ratings and good audience feedback and engagement in order for them to keep running your show? Do you think it’s even remotely possible that you yourself might get a bit carried away? Not to sound all preachy, but which of you will be the first to cast a stone?
YOU: The Victim
Now, if he truly is evil and irresponsible, then I think we can all agree that he certainly isn’t the first, nor will he be the last. Again, my goal is here not to defend his honour, but to remind you that many, many people make a living recommending dubious, even dangerous, weight loss products to the public. He doesn’t profit from these “endorsements”, if he sells anything, it’s sensational health news. Whatever it is: BUYER BEWARE.
That does not make it okay by any means! But c’mon, is this news? Dude with credentials makes inflated claims about health products? I’m sorry, but have you ever read an alternative health magazine before?
Forget celebrity endorsements – what about the weight loss franchises offering “medically supervised” weight loss? And by the way, if you didn’t know that those clinics weren’t good for you . . . they’re not. When I was an LPN, I absolutely refused to work for those clinics. I could go on, but that’s for another article.
The thought of people feeling duped and victimized by Dr. Oz’s – or anybody’s – inflated recommendations makes me truly sad. I know what it’s like to want to lose weight so desperately that you will try anything, no matter the cost. I know what it’s like to try to lose weight and fail. Nobody should be led to feel bad about themselves, and everybody deserves good, sound advice.
Alas, the world we live in is not so friendly or easy to navigate. Which is why it is imperative that everyone develop critical thinking skills. What does that mean? It means not taking everything you see or hear at face value. It means questioning everything you hear, regardless of who said it, and what credentials they have. Any moderately intelligent person can take the most valid research completely out of context, and portray it in a way that is completely removed from its actual findings.
It’s up to YOU to empower yourself by digging deeper into every claim, product, and piece of advice.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t actually watch The Dr. Oz show, but I like to believe that he is the same man that wrote YOU: The Owner’s Manual. I like the way he expresses himself, and I believe that while he has disappointed many people, he has undoubtedly helped many more.
Remember: this man is so much more – and has done so much more – than his show.
Has he abused his position? Perhaps. Should viewers and consumers take responsibility for their decisions? Absolutely, yes, 100%.
Senator McCaskill gave Dr. Oz some great advice, which we should seriously consider taking ourselves: be more careful, and perhaps you wouldn’t be victimized quite as frequently.
Take care + stay true,