Dr. Oz, the popular TV doctor known for his hype-filled endorsements of various weight loss products, faced a United States Senate committee Tuesday and struggled to defend himself against accusations that he plugs weight loss gimmicks that don’t work.
U.S. consumers reportedly will spend $2.4 billion on weight loss products this year, and products endorsed by Mehmet Oz on his widely viewed syndicated TV program The Dr. Oz Show generally see a significant increase in sales.
“The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you call miracles,” Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill told the 54-year-old celebrity doctor.
Oz, who is also a professor at Ivy League Columbia University, told McCaskill “I actually do personally believe in the items that I talk about on the show.”
But McCaskill, who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on consumer protection was not satisfied, accused Oz of telling his viewers to purchase products that simply don’t work.
“I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true,” McCaskill said, putting Oz immediately on the defensive. “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.”
McCaskill took Oz to task for using such overheated phrases as “magic weight-loss cure” and “Number One miracle in a bottle,” to plug the weight loss items discussed on his show. Oz said that he has tried to use more restrained wording in the last couple of years.
But Oz said that though he knows that science doesn’t support the products he endorses on the show, he recommends them to his own family anyway.
“I passionately study them,” Oz said. “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.”
Oz described himself as a “cheerleader” for his viewers.
“When they don’t think they have hope, when they don’t think they can make it happen, I want to look and I do look everywhere, including alternative healing traditions, for any evidence that might be supportive to them,” Oz said.
One of the products discussed at the Tuesday hearing, a product which Oz hyped in 2012, was green coffee extract. The Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit against that weight loss product, claiming that its makers offer deceptive claims about its effectiveness.
Video of McCaskill grilling Dr. Oz about his weight loss product claims is below.