TV doctor Mehmet Oz, host of the popular syndicated program The Dr. Oz Show, took a lot of heat while testifying before a Senate committee Tuesday about his claims that some diet products are "miracles" for weight loss. In one exchange lasting ten minutes, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill accused Oz of deliberately lying.
The hearing, held by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, was titled: “Protecting Consumers from False and Deceptive Advertising of Weight-Loss Products.”
Here's the video of McCaskill's exchange with Oz:
McCaskill called the hearing because of a recent Federal Trade Commission lawsuit against a Florida-based company's fake weight loss claims used to market their product.
From McCaskill's press release on the hearing:
McCaskill's hearing follows recent enforcement actions against companies engaged in deceptive advertising of weight-loss products. Last month the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it is suing the Florida-based company, Pure Green Coffee, alleging that it capitalized on the green coffee bean diet fad by using bogus weight-loss claims and fake news websites to market its dietary supplement. The FTC claimed that weeks after green coffee was promoted on the Dr. Oz Show, Pure Green Coffee began selling their Pure Green Coffee extract, charging $50 for a one-month supply.
Oz many times acknowledged products he told viewers to use are not scientifically supported and don't have the research to be presented as fact.
"I don't get why you need to say this stuff because you know it's not true," McCaskill said to Oz of his praise for green coffee extract, raspberry ketone, and garcinia cambogia as weight loss products.
Oz said he disagreed with whether the products worked or not, but acknowledges they wouldn't pass "FDA muster" as a pharmaceutical drugs.
Later Oz would acknowledge many of the products he mentioned "don't have the scientific muster to present as fact" but "nevertheless" he gives his audience advice to use the products.
"I actually do personally believe in the items I talk about on the show," Oz said. "I passionately study them. I recognize they don't have the scientific muster to present as fact but nevertheless I would give my audience the advice I give my family all the time and I have given my family these products. Specifically the ones you mentioned, then I'm comfortable with that part.
"The scientific community is almost monolithically against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called miracles," McCaskill shot back at Oz.
Oz then told McCaskill it was his "job" to be a "cheerleader for the audience" in defending his his advice to use so-called "miracle" products.
"My job, I feel on the show, is to be a cheerleader for the audience. And when they don't think they have hope, when they don't think they can make it happen, I want to look everywhere including alternative healing traditions for any evidence that might be supported to them."
"I know you feel you're a victim," McCaskill said to Oz. "Sometimes, conduct invites being a victim, and I think if you would be more careful maybe you wouldn't be victimized quite as much."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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