It seems like every other month, there’s a new story coming out about how Dr. Oz is under investigation or being kicked out of whatever faction he is a part of. For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon. However, this is likely not what you know him for. Chances are you know him because you’ve seen him on the Oprah Winfrey show preaching to countless stay-at-home moms about the power of alternative medicine and the “latest no workout, no effort, fat busting supplement.” You probably know him also as an avid non-GMO fanboy.
I have always been an opponent of the man’s wild claims and I felt that it was necessary to explain why.
The primary reason that I am in opposition of Dr. Oz is because he is a cardiothoracic surgeon. Yes, you read that right, because he is a surgeon. Let me explain. There is no doubting that in order to become a heart surgeon you need to be educated. No one is denying that. However, Dr. Oz is educated in being a heart surgeon, not fitness related information. Sure, he probably has read a few peer reviewed articles in his day, but based on the claims he has made in the past years, he is certainly not educated in the field enough to give dietary advice to nearly 2 million viewers each day. That would be like Alan Aragon, arguably the best dietary research reviewer and nutritionist giving millions of people advice on the best way to go about performing heart surgery. Perhaps that is a little obscene, but you get the picture. Dr. Oz really has no place giving nutritional advice, (especially on the scale that he does), simply because he is not even close to being adequately educated on the subject. The problem is that since he is a doctor, people view him as an authority so they take his advice verbatim and never think twice about it. This sort of nonsense not only undermines information that is given by real experts in the field, but also leads millions astray due to their ignorance and willingness to listen to an authority figure.
When it comes to nutritional and supplemental research, such research is pretty scarce. Fortunately for me, since I’m going into the field, but unfortunately for others, this field is still in its infancy. This not only leaves room for continuing research and discovery, but it also leaves room for people to prey on other’s ignorance. When it comes to adding any supplement or training program into one’s life, much of the evidence for doing so is anecdotal. That means that the idea is either logically sound or through experience, that logic has been confirmed. If we as a community had to wait for sound research on every subject to arise, then we would never make any progress. Yes, using evidence-based practices is of utmost importance, but sometimes you have to use better judgment and at least search for some research. The problem with Dr. Oz’s supplemental advice is that the majority of the supplements he backs are well, pretty lame. Supplements like raspberry ketones and green coffee bean extract, as it turns out, are fairly cheap supplements, which makes them very easy to promote. These are just a few supplements that Oz has promoted in the past few years. Take a doctor, promoting cheap supplements claiming to be backed by science, to a bunch of overweight stay at home moms looking for a quick fix, and you’ve got quite the cash cow. The problem is that he probably doesn’t realize that he is doing more damage than just taking a couple dollars from people. He is willingly leading innocent people astray, which probably results in those people experiencing mental dismay when they don’t “lose 18 pounds in three weeks” by taking green coffee bean extract. He claims that supplements like these are backed by science, and while he may be correct when it comes to one study, he is either willfully not using his better judgment or he doesn’t know the implications that come along with interpreting study results. When it comes to supplements, the only things that “really work” are steroids. Yes, substances like green tea extract for example may increase metabolic rate or something similar, but when it comes down to it, if training and dietary interventions are not sound, the actual effect of that supplement will be nil. Any person who has experience in this field knows this, and while it may be nice to suggest to people that something like green tea extract may be a nice additive to a sound diet, at the end of the day, taking a supplement like this will not be “the magic pill for fat loss.” It is even worse when someone is doing it for financial gain, which is very likely in the case of Dr. Oz.
The reason that you should likely take any mainstream advice such as from Dr. Oz with a grain of salt, is because chances are if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Especially when it comes to nutritional supplements. Further, the term “alternative medicine,” a motto of Oz, should always be a red flag. The reason that any real medicine is prescribed is because it has empirical evidence backing it. Do doctors over prescribe medications? Absolutely. Can medicine be dangerous, even when taken as prescribed? Absolutely. Is it possible that much of big pharma thrives on making people sicker in order to get them to buy more drugs? In my opinion, that’s a stretch, and I hope for everyone’s sake is false. However, chances are that real medicine is prescribed because it works. If you choose to use alternative medicine, that is your choice and you’ll have to live with the possible consequences. But that is your choice. You shouldn’t try preaching to others that alternative medicine is the key, especially if you’re in a position of authority unless your claims are consistently backed by evidence. The key is to educate yourself so that you can make informed decisions and question everything. Let it be known that some people are just in this game to make a buck. Don’t let that happen to you.