Dr. Mehmet Oz—of the The Dr. Oz Show fame—was hauled in front of a Senate panel today to answer for all the dubious benefits he claims certain weight loss products will provide. Products that he officially endorses with his name on the label. Products that he shills on his nationally-syndicated daytime television show.
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the chairwoman of the Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, had Oz's number.
"I don't get why you say this stuff because you know it's not true," McCaskill said. "So why, when you have this amazing megaphone and this amazing ability to communicate, why would you cheapen your show by saying things like that?"
Lawmakers at Tuesday's hearing specifically took aim at Oz's promotion of Pure Green Coffee beans, which claims to help users lose 20 pounds in four weeks and 16 percent of body fat in three months. The FTC sued the product's Florida-based makers in May.
Oz attempted to defend himself.
"My job, I feel, on the show is to be a cheerleader for the audience when they don't think they have hope and they don't think they can make it happen," he told the panel. "It jump-starts you. It gives you the confidence to keep going.
McCaskill, however, was not having any of it.
"The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you call miracles," she told Oz. "When you call a product a miracle, and it's something you can buy and it's something that gives people false hope, I just don't understand why you need to go there."
And although he told the panel today that he does actually "believe" in the products he hawks on his show, and that he has even given them to his own family, Michael Specter's profile of him for The New Yorker last year would appear to directly contradict that:
Oz doesn't follow any of the miracle cures or fad diets that he trots out so regularly for his audience.
But are that many people duped by products claiming miracle weight loss? Apparently so: the panel today cited a 2011 FTC consumer fraud survey that found "more consumers were victims of bogus weight-loss products than any other frauds covered by the survey."
[Image via AP]