Senator Claire McCaskill calls out Dr. Oz for phony diet fads

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Under pressure from Congress, celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz is offering to help “drain the swamp” of unscrupulous marketers using his name to peddle so-called miracle pills to millions of Americans desperate to lose weight.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill scolded Oz at a Senate hearing for claims he’s made about weight-loss aids on his TV show, “The Dr. Oz Show,” in which he once referred to green coffee extract as the “magic weight loss cure for every body type.”

“Dr. Oz, I will have some tough questions for you today about your role: intentional or not, in perpetuating these scams,” McCaskill said. “When you feature a product on your show, it creates what has become known as the “Oz Effect,” dramatically boosting sales and driving scam artists to pop up overnight, using false and deceptive ads to sell questionable products. While I understand that your messages also focused on basics like healthy eating and exercise, I am concerned that you are melding medical advice, news, and entertainment in a way that harms consumers.”

Oz responded.

“I encourage a nation searching for answers to their health woes,” he said. “We often address weight loss because, as you all mentioned, it affects about two-thirds of the population. If the only message I gave was to eat less and move more, which is the most important thing people need to do, we wouldn’t be very effectively tackling this complex challenge, because viewers know these tips, and they still struggle. So we searched for tools and crutches for short-term support so people can jump start their programs. We used the alternative solutions often commonly used in other countries, in other parts of the world, like in the Ayurevedic tradition, in subcontinent India, or traditional Chinese medicine. We feature cleanses and new diet programs by promising authors. Though many of these are controversial, as are the supplements that we researched and profile, but I would rather have a conversation of this material on my stage than in back allies.”

Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, acknowledged that his language about green coffee and other supplements has been “flowery.” He promised to publish a list of specific products he thinks can help Americans shed pounds and get healthy — beyond eating less and moving more.

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