Friday, September 16, 2011

Is There a Dr. Oz in the House? Millions of 'large ladies' eat up his "miracles"

UPDATE Dec 20, 2014: Researchers find most of Oz's remedies to be "bogus."

UPDATE June 17, 2014: Oz was assailed in a Congressional hearing today for his "fraudulent" and "deceptive" claims about weight-loss scams, such as his recent show on "3 Ways to get your fat to eat itself." He defended himself by saying merely that he tends to use "passionate and flowery language." He was warned to tone down his "huckster" approach and to show more respect both for his audience and his medical credentials. He was referred to as a "buffoon" and a "charlatan." The same could be said for members of Congress, but the proof about Oz's disrespect for the truth can be found in Oz1, Oz2 and Oz3, behind the tabs at the top of the page.

Oz says being fat is "the kiss of death." So what is he doing to his wife?
    (Jan 18, 2013) Lisa Oz is smart, beautiful, successful, charming and spiritual. 
    Fans of the "Dr.Oz Show" share many of these qualities, but the Good Doctor says they're not enough. 
    "You need to get rid of all those extra pounds you're hauling around," he says.
    Being overweight doesn't just decimate your self-esteem and limit your lifestyle choices, according to him. "It's a death sentence," he warns.
    Since his debut in September, 2009, he has promoted one "astonishing," "game-changing," "effortless" weight-loss miracle after another. Pills, potions, teas, lotions and exotic remedies from around the globe will bust your belly fat and blast your butt fat even as you "don't lift a finger" and "eat what you want." Be lazy AND skinny, he grins.
    He implores his viewers to lose weight and save their lives. Does he implore his wife?

Mrs. Oz would rather eat chocolate. That's her prerogative!
    "He's my husband, not my personal trainer," she says.
    A comment that was posted after Mrs. Oz's "Larry King Live" appearance said: "Lisa, you are no size 8! You are clearly overweight and unhealthy, according to Dr. Oz's standards. You say you co-authored the Dr. Oz diet book. You should practice what you preach." 
    Lisa Oz appears to be untroubled by such remarks. She doesn't claim to be thrilled that she's a meaty girl. Rather, she admits that she is a "mere mortal," who "struggles against the siren’s call of the chocolate bar."
    Who doesn't? Anyway, Dr. Oz has recommended many times that we all eat some dark chocolate every day. Just not the whole 62 ounces at once, silly!
Lisa Oz, right, with Dr. Oz at a Hollywood bash.

JANUARY 2014 UPDAT: The FTC fines three weight-loss products that have been promoted by Oz. Their marketing has been deceptive and fraudulent, the federal agency says.

MAY 2014 UPDATE: New York Times columnist Frank Bruni ridicules Oz for promoting the idea that "basic nature and fundamental biology can somehow be gamed, cheated, transcended...(Oz) revisits no topic more incessantly than (supposedly) ingenious ways to slim down. With a shameless vocabulary of “magic,” “miracle” and “revolutionary,” he has showcased or outright validated HCG hormone shots, green coffee bean supplements, raspberry ketone supplements and countless other worthless products. He told viewers: “I’m going to show you how you can get fat to eat itself right out of your body.” The sum of these exhortations “just violates science,” said Rudolph Leibel, an obesity expert at the Columbia University Medical Center. “It’d be like if we went to NASA and they were using astrological charts to try to figure out how to get a rocket to Europa. It’s at that level.”


    The point of Dr. Oz's endless slenderizing harangues is that there are ways to  "trick" and "cheat" your body into shedding pounds, even if you "adore" (a favorite Oz word) chocolate, pizza or Cheez Doodles. There are foods that magically incinerate fat, and there are 5-minute workouts "that will change your body and your self-esteem for a lifetime."
     But, after 26 years of marriage, Mrs. Oz prefers "the Relationship Diet," which focuses on strengthening bonds with your partner, rather than engaging in struggles against fat.
    Why not do both? Having stronger bonds won't do you much good if you get metabolic syndrome or diabetes or atherosclerosis from all that belly fat:
Belly fat, Oz says, is the most menacing killer of all.
     Mrs. Oz's weight is her own business, but one wonders why she would choose to be heavy when slimming down is such a breeze, according to her husband. He's hawked one product after another that he said caused dramatic weight loss without any sacrifice.
    And since he regards weight as a life-and-death issue, why hasn't he implored her -- as he has implored his fans -- to unload all that fat, along with the life-threatening diseases that come along with it?
    Is it possible that there are no miracles after all, and that he's just stringing his fans along to get even FATTER ratings and profits?
    There are miracles! Every day he has news ones. Here's his latest program description: Losing weight effortlessly without going on a full-time diet; tricks to slim down instantly; losing 10 pounds in two weeks by ceasing to eat one particular food.
    It seems that he characterizes every new product as the most "astonishing" discovery he's ever found.   
    After he turned green coffee bean extract into the runaway best-seller of 2012 for fast, easy weight loss, he came across "something far more miraculous....this changes the whole picture forever." 
     It was Garcinia Gambogia Extract (HCA), which he extolled in late October as the "Holy Grail of Weight Loss."  He went on to say, “Anytime I see a scientist get this excited about something like this, and when I looked through some of this research and called these scientists myself, I get excited.  That’s why Garcinia Cambogia Extract makes sense to me and fascinates me. Just take 15000 mg. daily and watch the magic.” 
    The frantic global search for this unparalleled miracle -- which "melts away the pounds," even as you continue your current diet and activity level -- was on. But even before it had peaked, even while stores and websites were scrambling to find new sources for this product, Oz was long gone, onto his next miracle: the weight-loss powerhouse, red palm oil.
Just $159.95 -- but it's sold out everywhere.
    Of all the oils he has advocated, and there has been an exhausting and confusing array, "None compares to the powerful nutritional virtues of virgin organic red palm fruit oil," he stated in January, adding that it may well be his "most miraculous find in 2013." 
    And red palm oil goes straight to the liver and ignites metabolism. "That means you’ll burn calories from fat much faster."
    In addition to "blasting away fat because it metabolizes quicker," its red color is like "a stop sign for aging.....extending the warranty on nearly every organ in your body."

    Aside from the fact that the demand for palm oil is causing the decimation of the Earth's rainforests, claims that it has a "mysterious" ability to "whittle away" your total body fat and "melt" your belly fat are preposterous, according to Science-Based Medicine.

    Dr. Oz hauled out "The Lazy Girl's Guide to Getting Healthy" in March 2012. Its introductory statement is typical of his approach:
     "Does getting healthy feel like too much work? Dr. Oz has your easy way out! No workouts! No cooking! Eat what you want, lose weight and prevent cancer! Minimum effort — maximum results!" 
    He promises "simple, no-thought solutions" (the only kind we can handle?) and "tricks and cheats in the kitchen" (honesty can be such a drag).
    Weight loss is embroiled in a savage race to the top among the most-covered topics on "The Dr. Oz Show," as he breathlessly shares one "secret belly-blasting trick" and "surefire tip" and "new miracle must-have" after another to answer the perennial question, "Why don't my pants fit?" 
    He promises to uncover "the cruelest lies that are keeping you fat" and "the four evil little things that are making you fat." He vows to help you be "healthy and lazy at the same time." He's like the Albert Einstein of flab-fighting, minus the scientific integrity.
    "It's now possible to freeze your fat away!" he declares.

    Oz addresses this issue in the same way he addresses everything else: in a manic, urgent, half-stuttering way that reveals both a short attention span and a disconcerting superficiality. He often uses a shotgun approach, tossing out so many tips in rapid-fire fashion that all one can do is slump back, overwhelmed. 
    One day he introduces "the most potent antioxidant on the planet," and the next day he recommends something that is "the best antioxidant out there." So is it beets or berries? Apple skins or kale? Aloe juice or noni juice? Pistachios or macadamias? 
    Each day brings another table full of fabulously powerful, amazing discoveries. He's jumping all over the place, and it's blowing his mind! He admits it: "I'm excited!"
    He "packs" his show in such a way that you think you're learning a lot in the moment,  but by the time the show is over, you're brain dead.  You've shut down. It's too much.

    And that keeps Oz from facing "too much" scrutiny. You have the vague feeling that you've just been messed with, your intelligence has been treated in a cavalier fashion, but you can't really remember most of what he said.
    His crazy young staff members must be blowing cheese doodles out their noses, bent over laughing at what they get away with. I picture them as being like the guys on "30 Rock" or the stable of writers who do "The Simpsons." Havin' a blast and gettin' paid to do it!
    Dr. Oz has "a revolutionary dietary approach that allows you to target trouble spots and reshape your body in just 5 days!" his web site says. (Just two minutes a day in the "downward dog" yoga pose will "selectively burn fat" in your upper body. This whole "reshaping" thing is totally easy!)
     (Except that we have learned from exercise physiologists, after decades of research, that you cannot "selectively" burn fat. Fat-burning requires concerted aerobic exercise. It is a whole-body process. But Oz doesn't want to turn you off by mentioning this.)
     During the entire year that I watched "The Dr. Oz Show," he introduced one "no-fail" weight-loss product or plan after another, but on March 8, 2012, he announced that he will soon disclose "A Shocking Diet Breakthrough That Will Prove WE'VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG ALL ALONG!"

    Before this new thunderbolt struck him, though, he had plenty of "amazing new strategies" to keep us coming back for more. For example, he promoted the T-Fal Actifry, which "lets you indulge in some of your favorite junk foods – French fries, potato chips, chicken wings – without worrying about fat and calories!" 
    Wouldn't it be better if Oz used his power of persuasion to convert his fans to the beauty of wholesome foods, instead of perpetuating their addiction to junk food? We can be conditioned to prefer food that is good for us, just as we have been conditioned to gorge on "edible substances" that seem expressly formulated to damage our health.
     "My next program will absolutely change your life," he tells his audience. "In just seven days, I can turn your life around. You can burn fat without moving a muscle." 
    We need to move our muscles, and you know it, Dr. Oz. 
    We need to move our muscles not just to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, but also to protect us from "lifestyle diseases" such as high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and metabolic disorder. We need to move our muscles to enhance our cognitive function. We need to move because it feels good, and it is often characterized as the most effective antidepressant. You're the one who's always talking about the "fountain of youth." There is plenty of scientific evidence that Moving Our Muscles is the closest we've come to finding one.

     But instead, Oz recommends this: "Try this non-workout workout that can raise your basal metabolic rate: By sitting on a firm seat, your butt muscles have to work against gravity to create your own cushion, which also stimulates core strength. It's an effort-free butt buster!"
    He recently offered another exercise -- this one was "great for your heart." I thought: finally, some cardio! But no -- viewers were told to remain seated, raise their arms, and entwine their fingers. "Now stretch," Oz demonstrated. "Stretch, stretch  -- doesn't that feel great? It looses up your blood vessels and benefits your whole body."
    I love stretching, and I've been doing it for 40 years, but it is no substitute for a cardiovascular workout, either for enhancing health or for burning calories.
    One recent Oz episode was promoted as: "Look 20 pounds thinner without doing a thing!" 
    But you did have to do "a thing," although it had nothing to do with actually getting thinner.  The big "secret" was Shapeware, which is essentially a whole-body girdle that crams your fat inward and reconfigures it into a more pleasing silhouette. I wonder what it does to your internal organs to wear a vise like this all day.

Why diet, when you can get "liposuction in a box"?
    "Cheat your jeans and look a size smaller" just by following "three easy shopping tips" when you select their style and cut. No diet required!
    Why do you keep prodding us to "cheat," Dr. Oz? 
    Is it because you want to be loved, and people might get upset if you told them that actual commitment, discipline and energy are required to have a healthy body? 
    Are you afraid that all those big-bottomed fans would get bummed out and stop tuning in? 

   Your income might decline by a few million dollars (if the audience shrunk, which I don't think it would), but you'd still have plenty of moolah -- and you'd also have some integrity, which is pretty valuable as well.
    Try it. You'll like it. But no, Oz prefers this approach:

    "This will transform your body: 5 mysterious tips to end your worst carb cravings!" "Tune in for a revolutionary 4-step plan to bust your butt fat!"
    "Take a cold shower to jump-start your metabolism!" (the shivering proves you're burning calories.)
    What's even better: Oz offers a cutting-edge four-step program to "sleep yourself skinny." 
    Sounds kind of too good to be true, doesn't it?  (He's told us that sleeping too little or too much can cause obesity, but he never said anything before about it making us LOSE weight just by lying there -- that's great!)
     His new plan is wonderfully simple: It consists of a foam-centered pillow, eyeshades, a sound machine and a temperature-regulated mattress case.
    Is anyone skinny yet?
    "Can you hypnotize yourself to believe you've had weight-loss surgery? Tune in tomorrow!" 
    And have bariatric dreams tonight about this absurd concept!

    Oz's never-ending rush of tips and plans indicates that neither he nor his staff  has done enough (if any) homework.  
     "Is Dr. Oz more showman than doctor?," asks nutritionist and MPH Mary Hartley. "His theatrical endorsement of dubious weight loss products points to the former." 

     Chromium "blasts through calories," Oz says. 
    The Linus Pauling Institute's micronutrient studies "have demonstrated little if any beneficial effect on weight or fat loss" from chromium.
    The peer-reviewed Natural Standard database (to which the Oz website links) is less equivocal. Based on a survey of scholarly research, it gives chromium an "F" grade for weight management.
    The Oz promos flow forth like a river at flood stage:  "Dump that last eight pounds and get back your life!" "Five-minute miracles to fight fat!" "Blue corn chips trick your body into thinking it's thin!"
     "Oolong tea boosts your metabolism, and decreases fat and calorie absorption! (Dr. Weil, the best-selling MD and holistic expert, says only that oolong contains some antioxidants -- no metabolic effects -- and Natural Standard finds no documented medicinal benefit for it in any of the scientific literature. Only green tea appears to affect metabolism, and that is attributed largely to its caffeine content.) 
    Dr. Oz promises to reveal "the miracle appetite suppressant to kill your hunger!" "Eat more to lose weight!" "A cup of sage tea jump-starts your metabolism!" (According to the Natural Standard database, sage has no benefits related to metabolism). 
    Oz fully backed guest Hungry Girl's plan to "Eat twice as much and lose 10 pounds this month" (even though that much weight loss is counter to what he has characterized as safe and feasible). He didn't argue with her dieting philosophy: "No deprivation. That's the bottom line." They're basically saying that taking it off should be as easy and enjoyable as putting it on. Get real!

    Also: Consider "the miracle procedure to laser off your fat in minutes -- without surgery!" A cold laser beam "melts three to eleven inches of fat away in two weeks"! VelaShape is "a cutting-edge treatment that uses multiple energy technologies to smooth out cellulite and shrink fat cells in your body."  

    That's what we need to hear: Lie down, lose weight.

    Why are you promoting "effortless," "no thought" solutions to a profoundly serious national health crisis, Dr. Oz? 

    Isn't this whole thing pretty tacky -- not to mention heartless and medically negligent?
    "Eat steak and cake and still lose weight!" 
     "Five revolutionary metabolism boosters!" "Flatten your belly with olives, pesto and pistachios" -- yummy! Pine nuts (he says, on another day) "decrease your appetite." That may be true, but they sure are high in fat and calories.
    Oz has been accused of purveying "junk science," and these sorts of recommendations certainly lend credence to that notion.
    "Greek yogurt is one of the best ways of tricking your body into losing fat!" "Cinnamon, vinegar and chili pepper will boost your metabolism and make you feel full longer."  "Eat everything you want, burn fat three times faster and lose 20 pounds in 30 days!" "Eat chard three times a week, and take three tablespoons a day of safflower oil to lose fat cells!" Oh, and "just four black figs every day will work wonders!"
    All these prescriptions will keep you so busy, you won't even have time to weigh yourself, which is probably to Oz's advantage. 

    And all these attempts to "trick" your body might make you feel kind of sad and guilty. Your body is YOU. Isn't it rude to be so tricky? Honesty seems ever so much nicer.
     In case you disagree, Oz's "quick cheats" and "incredible tricks" keep coming, as relentless as rush-hour traffic.
    Do any of them work? Even if even a few of them did, Oz wouldn't be able to lure us back day after day, because our bellies would be so "blasted" and our butts would be so "busted" that we wouldn't need any more "miracle diets." 
    (Read about his notorious flip-flop on the HCG diet in part three of this series.)
    But since all those other things haven't worked, it's a thrill to learn that "garbanzos wield a belly-blasting power punch," and  "Just add cloves, cinnamon and ginger to your food for an unbeatable weight loss boost, plus more antioxidants than you get from any fruit or vegetable!" 
     And don't forget the "10-minute miracle weight-loss plan."
    Oz promises "new rules to supercharge your energy instantly," resulting in "great results with little effort." He has developed "revolutionary ideas for a total body overhaul."
   "You can RESHAPE your body in the first 30 minutes of your morning. Just jump-start your day with some yerba mate tea!"
    It is such a relief to learn that "kissing burns calories," since actual exercise seems so tiresome. Oz does kind of ruin the moment, though, by airing a promo that practically shrieks: "WHEN SEX KILLS!!"

    Oz seems determined to promise weight loss without any real exertion, even promoting a "just sit there" workout.
     "Eat chewy food to burn 20 percent more calories," he advises. "Coffee helps you burn 16 percent more calories. Beans and tuna burn 20 percent more because of all that chewing and digesting."
    Momentarily standing on your toes "will give you a slenderizing burst of energy," he adds.
    These are such pathetic measures, given the enormity of our obesity problem. Chewy food is not the answer. Standing on your toes won't even get a foot in the door.
    This should be a "Saturday Night Live" skit, not a serious program about wellness.  
   "Rev up your metabolism with ice cream," Oz says. As Dana Carvey might retort, with faux affection: "Isn't that special?" This is so easy, no wonder everyone loves him.
  "Three iced drinks a day will make your body burn more energy," Oz adds. So do hot peppers, he claims.
     These little measures are good for keeping a TV show going, one surefire tip at a time, but they don't seem to take obesity seriously.
    Oz provides a recipe for a five-minute "fat-fighting miracle" in the form of a "flat belly salad," which contains hot pepper (which "burns four calories an hour") plus jicama, nuts and grapefruit. 
    He urges us to "walk up a sudden hill" for a metabolic boost, but I don't have any sudden hills in my part of the country. They're all pretty much permanent and stationary.
    For the annual "swimsuit slimdown," Oz recommends "Inca peanuts," (sacha inchi nuts) which somehow "trim belly fat."
    This is yet another example of Oz unleashing a mad scramble for an obscure food that doesn't have the benefits he ascribes to it. He made it "the must-have health food of the summer" in 2011, despite its nearly 200 calories per serving (the same as other nuts) and its $16 dollar a pound price. They became one his his top-selling "picks," according to Forbes magazine.

    "Dr. Oz's accolades are all well and good, but the Inca nut has quite a carbon footprint, and for what?" asks Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, and chief nutritionist for "Dr. Oz fails to mention that all nuts and seeds have some great combination of Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients. There are so many that are cheaper and just as good for you -- think of pistachios, walnuts, almonds, flaxseed, sesame, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds." (But Oz has already recommended all of these -- pumpkin seeds reduce waist size! -- so he needed something new and exciting.)
    As we noted in part one of this series, Oz does this "Inca nut miracle" thing all the time: He gets people madly trolling the Internet and scouring their local specialty shops, desperately trying to find some exotic "superfood," ("Where did all the lingonberries go?") when in fact the nearest grocery store has foods that contain the same active components.
    Another Oz promo was bound to attract quite a few people: "Eat all you want and never gain a pound!" In front of him was a table laden with pizzas, and desserts.

   Maybe it would be more sensible (?) to try Satiereal Saffron Extract: "a miracle appetite suppressant to curb your hunger and kill your cravings."
Saffron, before it becomes an appetite suppressant .
     Dr. Oz had two audience members who are "emotional eaters" try Satieral Saffron Extract over the weekend to see if it curbed their appetites. They both said it did. At the official "weigh in," one was shown to have lost three pounds, the other had lost five. Everyone was amazed.
    Of course they were amazed. Even if the women had eaten NOTHING all weekend, they couldn't actually have lost that much weight, unless it was merely water weight, or unless they'd competed in a triathlon. 
    You have to burn -- or cut out -- 3,500 calories to lose one pound. It is very doubtful that either woman legitimately lost even one pound over the weekend.
    Dr. Oz has previously said that losing a pound a week, by cutting out 500 calories a day, is the safe and realistic way to diet.
    "Drink the right tea at the right time," Oz says, "to shrink fat cells and burn blubber." In fact, they do neither, according to the scientific research.
    I have been drinking herbal teas for 50 years. I enjoy them. They are aromatic, they are comforting (as is any warm beverage), and the whole idea of them is appealing. But I have never sensed any of the magical, multitudinous medicinal benefits Dr Oz ascribes to them: they don't perk me up, cure my headache, make me sleepy, focus my brain or calm my stomach. They certainly don't give me the "fantastic boost" Oz promises.
    Start the day with Pu-erh tea, he suggests. "Scientists have said there is an activating enzyme in this tea that will literally shrink fat cells," he reports. (One university study in North Carolina and several in Asia have indicated that this tea can reduce LDL-- the bad cholesterol -- in rats, but it had no effect on body composition or weight loss.)  
    (Anyway, Oz has told us before that the miracle to get your energy back is to have a cup of nettle tea every morning. Then he said have some yerba mate tea to get us going in the morning. But he also said coffee is a super-powered way to begin your day. And yet, he insisted we have his super-dooper Green Smoothie upon rising each day, but we also need the super-super dooper  high-protein milkshake within the first 30 minutes. So that is six morning beverages and one busy toilet).
Teas made from herbal infusions are beautiful and delicious.
     Have white tea for lunch to block fat absorption, Oz urges. EGCG is the active ingredient  that will turn you into a fat burning machine and reduce stress, he claims. 
    (Good luck with that. Although white tea contains EGCG, the antioxidant's weight-loss effects have only been documented in green tea. Study participants were given high-concentration green-tea extract, not tea itself.)
    Enjoy some Chickweed tea to reduce bloating in the afternoon. It is a mild diuretic and laxative, viewers are told. (That isn't weight loss -- its peeing and pooping. This is all such crap!)
    After dinner, Bilberry tea will kill those evening cravings with its "blood-sugar balancing effects."
    (As is the case with most of Oz's recommendations, the Natural Standard database of peer-reviewed research shows that these herbs have none of the benefits he ascribes to them, but they do come with substantial interactions and potential side effects.)
    These represent just a few of the "incredibly powerful" herb teas that Oz has urged us to consume regularly. But how do we balance their alleged (but unproven) benefits with the extraordinary benefits of coffee, about which he is also very bullish?


   "Coffee has been shown to have several benefits ranging from lowering your risk for dementia to decreasing your risk of sudden death," Oz says. "Now a new study looking at over 70,000 women has found that those who consumed at least a cup of coffee with lunch were one-third less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes over several years than non-coffee drinkers. Coffee has been shown to reduce liver cancer and to be effective with symptoms of  Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases."
    In recent months, "coffee -- three to five cups a day -- has been linked to significantly reduced rates of  endometrial, prostate, skin and breast cancers," he adds.
    So what are we supposed to do with this mind-boggling onslaught of claims? We'll have to create special nunneries for those of us who have decided to devote our lives to consuming beverages.
    "Drenching people in health data is ineffective and it can be dangerous," says Oz critic Gary Schwitzer, a University of Minnesota professor of health journalism, founding editor of and publisher of, which rates medical news reporting.
    An "ancient Asian secret" kills your cravings, Oz says enticingly. He calls it Konjac root, which is yet another of his "secret" remedies that no one has ever heard of. That's because everyone else calls it  glucomannan fiber, a soluble fiber like that found in psyllium, oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, and barley. Like all fiber, it helps fill you up, but it does not "kill cravings."

   Oz called it his "most extreme experiment ever." It's the "Prehistoric Diet," a diet with no meat, dairy, sugar or caffeine.
   "Could it be for you?" he asked. 
     Oz challenged three women with unhealthy eating habits to live in a zoo for 48 hours (his perverse sensationalism seems to have no bounds) and consume nothing but raw fruits and vegetables. This would clearly constitute what Oz himself characterizes as a starvation diet -- fewer than 500 calories. He has spoken out against such extreme caloric restriction many times.
They camped out with the cranes at Turtle Back Zoo in New Jersey.
   After just 48 hours on the diet -- and despite the cruel, cynical way in which they were exploited for Oz's benefit -- their average weight and cholesterol levels dropped. Surprise!
    He urged viewers to try his new Prehistoric Diet Plan in the comfort of their  own homes. It's not really prehistoric, since breakfast requires frozen tropical fruits (Caveman say: No can do. Is too hot in tropics for frozen.) as well as unsweetened almond milk. Lunch calls for nori filled with guacamole and jicama.
    "Nori production and processing is an advanced form of agriculture," according to Wikipedia. Not very prehistoric! Its final stage is very much like paper-making.
Nori is pretty and nutritious, but it's not prehistoric!
    The prehistoric dinner calls for canned beans, canned tomatoes and canned corn with some fresh greens thrown in. Once again: not very "prehistoric"!
     Moving right along, perhaps to discourage too much scrutiny of the whole zoo experience, Oz has yet another list of "breakthrough belly blasting" ingredients for us to ingest:

   After months urging us to use olive oil, with an occasional nudge to try something new, like walnut oil, he asks:  "Could rice bran oil be the miracle fat that helps us get skinny?"
    (But since olive oil reduces mortality by 50 percent, according to Oz, isn't that -- if you believe it  -- the "miracle" we should give higher priority?)                           
    Rice bran oil "convinces the cells to burn out the sugar so it doesn't hang around," Oz says. I personally don't believe that oil can "convince," or that cells can be convinced, or that sugar "hangs around."
    Rice bran oil "reduces cholesterol and burns off the fat. But the real test is: Does it taste good?" Oz adds.
    Actually the real test is: Does it live up to the Oz hype?

    "I haven't seen much research on rice bran oil's contribution to human health. For household use, it doesn't measure up to olive oil," MD and holistic health icon Dr. Andrew Weil says.
    Neither Whole Foods nor GNC carries rice bran oil (at least they didn't at the time that Oz "anointed" it. Perhaps by now it's become one of their best-sellers). Natural Standard has no data on it, nor does regular Oz guest Dr. Joseph Mercola.

    Other belly-blasters on his list are:  Goldenberries, miso and sauerkraut.
Scarcity is golden.
      Goldenberries, if you can possibly find them (join the herd of other women driving all over town) are of value because they are "loaded with B vitamins that are essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism." Lots of foods are rich in B vitamins, but they are common, so it wouldn't be as exciting to recommend them. 
    Miso, like any warm broth, helps curb your appetite. It has some of the benefits of other soy products, albeit in diluted form, but it is very high in sodium.
    "Sauerkraut contains bacteria that boost digestion and reduce belly inflammation." Oz reports. 
    But, according to his friend Dr. Weil, "Unfortunately, most of today's commercially available sauerkraut is pasteurized and 'dead' -- that is, it lacks the beneficial bacterial cultures that make it so good for us. Instead, all you get is a lot of salt. Sauerkraut is one of the saltiest foods available." 
    "Good bacteria" that are alive  can be obtained from yogurt, kefir, tempeh, kimchi and kombucha, as well as from probiotic supplements, all of which have become widely available. 
    Oz also continues to promote cinnamon as a "metabolism booster." Cinnamon was inadvertently discovered in a Kansas USDA study 12 years ago to have an apparent effect on the blood glucose levels of those with diabetes. Efforts to replicate these studies have been mixed. The National Standard database gives cinammon a C grade (inconclusive) for treating Type 2 diabetes. The research does not suggest that cinnamon "boosts metabolism," whether or not you have diabetes (unless you have "hepatic copper malfunction.")

    As a wholesome weight-loss aid, Oz (along with everyone else who got the press release) has for months recommended the use of agave nectar, because of its widely touted "lower glycemic index." 
    But the web site RealAge, launched by Oz's writing partner Dr. Michael Roizen and featuring Oz as its spokesmodel (and recently acquired by Oz from Hearst), says this is "hype," and the RealAge site provides "the shocking truth" about agave nectar: 
     "About 70 percent to 85 percent of the sugar in agave syrup is fructose. Compare that to about 50 percent in refined sugar and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). Fructose may be lower on the glycemic index scale, but it still encourages weight gain and blood sugar problems -- maybe more than regular sugar does. Why? Fructose lowers your levels of the two hunger-control hormones (insulin and leptin) and increases your 'I'm hungry' hormone (ghrelin). Fructose also interferes with your body's ability to absorb blood sugar (hello, diabetes) and encourages the buildup of lousy LDL cholesterol in your arteries. It can also worsen IBS."
   Lately, Oz has turned his attention to palm sugar, another dubious choice, instead of teaching women that over time they can decrease their desire for sweet (and salty) foods by essentially re-setting their taste buds. 
Oz takes palm sugar to new heights.
    When it comes to losing all that belly flab, his approach, as usual, is to take the easy way out: The emphasis is on things you can ingest, rather than caloric restriction or exercise.
    "If you feel like your belly is bringing you down, don't just stand idly by and watch it grow. There are plenty of effective and affordable supplements and foods you can try to help you lose that extra bulge," he says on his web site.

    The Halsa mat is one of his "weight loss miracles."
Using the Halsa mat, weight loss is as easy as dozing off.
     "How would you like to lose weight while lying down?" he asks in yet another effortless remedy.  "This mat contains thousands of spikes to help stimulate your body’s acupressure points."
     Oz's "top belly-busting supplements" were promoted breathlessly, with no mention of their drawbacks or limitations.
     His advice to take 7-keto, "a real miracle," is perhaps the most problematic. This chemical is a natural byproduct of the powerful adrenal hormone DHEA. He says it will "stimulate your thyroid to permanently raise your metabolism’s set your body’s engines can begin burning faster, resulting in less weight gain and a trimmer belly."
     WebMd urges that patients consult with their pharmacist about side effects, precautions and drug interactions when considering this complex supplement.  
     Dr. Weil refers to 7-keto as "a DHEA acetate" and says that regular use poses an increased risk of heart attack and breast and prostate cancer. 
    Some medical sources warn that because 7-Keto causes an increase in thyroid hormone levels, it may cause bone loss and cardiac problems, according to, a self-described independent health news organization whose articles are footnoted with scholarly citations.
    I have tried two or three times in the past 25 years to take DHEA, which is said to preserve bone and muscle mass as we age, but it made me feel sick. An endocrinologist told me no one should use a DHEA derivative unless he or she is under the care of a physician. 

    Another of Dr. Oz's "belly-busting supplements" is forskolin, which some clinicians believe can help to "promote the breakdown of stored fats in animal and human fat cells," according to Oz. "It may also release fatty acids from adipose tissue, which results in increased thermogenesis, resulting in loss of body fat and, theoretically, increased lean body mass."
    Dr. Weil says forskolin may be helpful in treating urinary tract infections, but "we don't know yet what an effective dose of forskolin would be in humans" even for that purpose. He adds that "It is being promoted in the United States as a weight loss aid and a means of increasing lean body mass," but he has "not found any evidence to support this claim."
Forskolin is a kind of mint used in Ayurvedic medicine.
     According to a review of the scholarly research on forskolin by eMaxHealth, side effects include headaches, decreased blood pressure and a rapid heart rate, due to its vasodilator properties. Cancer researchers caution that it may have a role in causing cyst enlargement in women with polycystic kidney disease. It may also increase in the likelihood of internal bleeding. Medical authorities warn that forskolin should not be taken by patients currently using cardiac medications or blood thinners, eMaxHealth adds.
    But Oz forgot to mention all of that.

    Another Oz "belly blaster," Relora, is a compound that is believed to reduce stress and anxiety by regulating the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream, he says. 
    Relora consists of two "proprietary" extracts, from magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense bark.
    Magnolia officinalis slows down your nervous system, according to WebMd, and should be discontinued at least two weeks before any surgery that involves general anesthesia. Pregnant women should avoid it because it can cause a miscarriage. Its safety for long-term use has not been established.
     Phellodendron amurense bark interacts with a number of common prescription drugs, such as Cyclosporine, Halcion and Viagra, WebMd says. It should not be used by pregnant women, because it can penetrate the placenta and damage the fetus. If used during breast-feeding, it can cause brain damage to the baby.
     Oz mentioned none of these potential drawbacks. He also neglected to warn that because of its link to treating anxiety, Relora is contraindicated with the use of medications for treating depression and other mental conditions without the prior approval of a physician.

    Another Oz pick for "demolishing belly fat," caraway seeds,  "are recommended by herbalists for everything from fighting mouth bacteria to increasing lactation," according to eMaxHealth . "Their use in fighting belly fat, however, is somewhat inglorious." 
    The literature does suggest that caraway seeds help relieve digestive problems such as heartburn, gas, and mild abdominal spasms, so they may help users feel less bloated, even though they "do nothing to address the fat issue."
   While Oz urges viewers to "trim your thighs" (somehow) with soy isoflavone supplements, Dr. Weil says, " I recommend that you avoid soy supplements entirely because of their high isoflavone content and lack of evidence demonstrating their long-term safety."
    Nutritionists have for years encouraged consumption of whole soy foods such as edamame, tofu and tempeh, while discouraging the use of isoflavone pills, which may cause or feed certain cancers. 
    Another of Oz's "secret weight loss miracles" is the infrared sauna. It's so easy, you don't even have to swallow anything:
"And when you come out, you'll be much less flabby!"

    "All you do is sit there, and you lose 700 calories without lifting a finger," he says, adding that it is a "life-extension tool."
    Just sitting there seems to be the centerpiece of Oz's weight-loss master plan. He knows all those overweight ladies don't want to exercise, so he offers measures to "trick" or "cheat" their way to slimness.    
    His shares his personal exercise solution: a vigorous 10-minute routine upon arising. It is obvious, though, that Oz is a healthy, active, nicely muscled man (am I the only one who's noticed his biceps?). I simply don't believe that he or anyone else achieves fitness in 10 minutes a day, but the concept is good for ratings.
    Oz's wife, Lisa, says "he is exercising all the time." 
    On his TV show and web site, he introduces fitness guru Tony Horton's "new plan to help transform your body in just 10 minutes a day. Try this special 'turbo' workout plan to trim and tone your body."
    I can't imagine why Horton would indulge in this scam. He has already proven that you can get filthy rich by inspiring people to work their asses off through a series of grueling, grunting, sweat-drenched routines.  I guess he figures that the 10-minute-a-day demographic is there for the plundering. Why not go for it?

    Oz's other exercise-related guests have offered fun and well-conceived cardio-dance  routines, but they lasted only a few minutes. Shaun T demanded more of the audience for them to achieve "monster fitness": 15 minutes.
Shaun didn't get that body in 15 minutes a day of dancing around. Obviously, he pumps iron!
        Oz has failed to force his viewers to face the truth that concerted, challenging and consistent exercise is key to successful and healthy weight loss. You need to get your pulse up and keep it up, which you don't do by parking farther away from the door or walking up three flights of stairs (both of which Oz counts as exercise. They help, of course, but they aren't adequate). Most experts, and the federal government, say an hour a day of at least moderate cardiovascular exertion is generally required to manage weight and optimize health. 
    The only time I have ever heard Oz come remotely close to recommending such a regimen, he made it sound absurdly frantic and joyless. He said you "must" be out the door 30 minutes after you get up. And you "must" make and consume a smoothie first. Then, as far as I know, he never again urged people to get out there and run or briskly walk (skipping is also nice) for an extended period.
    I have never heard Oz describe the joy of a challenging run or a brisk walk. In the world of Oz, you grit your teeth and get it out of the way ("10 minutes and you're done!") (unless you decide to use one of his many "cheats"). 
    Why doesn't he convey what so many of us know -- that exercise can be beautiful? It can be as uplifting as religion, as exhilarating as a night dancing at the club. ( It can change your mind and your life, as well as your body. It burns off the pounds, and it also actually moderates your appetite. For years, I agonized over every calorie I consumed, even those from sugarless gum. I weighed myself several times a day. But now, I pay no attention to calories, and the only time I ever get weighed is at the doctor's office. Exercise transformed my relationship with food. At last, I feel quite normal, at least in this regard.

    In addition to being a total milquetoast on the turn-off topic of exercise, Oz has also failed to grasp the psychology of overeating and of food addiction. 
    He recently presented several obese women with an array of 200-calorie pre-dinner "snacks" that one guest said, "look like whole meals to me." There were mini pizzas, corn chips with Greek yogurt dip, and roll-ups filled with banana and peanut butter that were to be eaten two hours before dinner.
     "And then you get to have dinner!" Oz said. "And you'll be dropping the pounds so fast, it'll make your head spin."
    (Oz's friend and collaborator Dr. Mike Roizen had recently advised having "food with a little fat in it 30 minutes before your meal. Eat 70 calories of a healthy fat, like six omega-3-rich walnuts, ground flax seed or a bit of salmon burger.")
   They both apparently assumed the women would eat less at dinner, having "curbed" their hunger with a healthy snack.
    This theory, it seems to me, fails completely to understand what "hunger" means for people who are overweight, and even for some of us who have managed not to be. 

    Many of us have never been hungry -- in the biological sense of needing fuel -- but we are starving all the time. We want to eat even if we just ate. We don't eat because we are hungry, and we don't satisfy our hunger by eating. We eat because we want to EAT.
    We want to chew and we want to swallow -- preferably in a mindless daze -- and we want to be immersed in that euphoric, anesthetized, bloated state that eases psychic pain or calms us down. A snack doesn't curb hunger in such people -- it stimulates it -- just as one drink used to create in me a lust for the entire bottle (I finally quit).
    I think Oz's yummy snack idea makes sense only for people who have a normal relationship with food (ie; eat when you're hungry, stop when you're not -- although those people probably don't need a pre-dinner snack). I doubt that most overweight people fit into that category.
    The same problem applies to his special "booty-busting brownies," which somehow keep you "burning fat" if you just eat two every day -- that sounds so yummy and easy! 
    Those who talk about weight loss and chocolate in the same sentence just want to be loved, as far as I'm concerned. People who have a disordered relationship with food are very unlikely to be comfortable eating the recommended 1.6 ounces of plain dark chocolate that WebMd regards as "good for you" --  in the same way that they can't "eat just one" potato chip. 
     It isn't unreasonable to eat dark, preferably unsweetened, chocolate for health reasons if you enjoy the taste, "but make sure to cut an equivalent number of snack calories from your diet," says Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, in the Wall Street Journal.

    For all those perpetual buttinskies, Oz provides a "7-day butt-busting cheat sheet." 
    More cheating!
    Kudzu root is "a super supplement to bust butt fat." Oz says this "powerful ancient remedy" contains phytoestrogens that help regulate estrogen and blood sugar levels, both of which contribute to butt fat. This is yet another gimmick (but people have been on waiting lists to buy some ever since Oz's recommendation decimated the nation's stock. At last, a market for that pesky Southern vine!). 
Kudzu eats up everything -- including your butt fat!
     The Natural Standard site states that kudzu has been  traditionally used in China to treat alcoholism, diabetes, gastroenteritis and deafness, and gives it a "C" for several uses, none related to butts or fat. But it is ancient -- Oz got that part right.
    Dr. Weil says some studies have shown  that kudzu may decrease the desire for alcohol in rodents, but it has no apparent applications for "busting" your derriere.
    Although Oz often urges the consumption of complex carbohydrates, he once compared carbs to cocaine. "One is legal, the other is illegal."  He seems quite bipolar on this subject. 
    Oz recently featured "the flat-belly cake," a 5-layer chocolate cake with creme filling and berries ("shave as much dark chocolate on top as you want") (there he goes again!).
An Oz fan concocted a healthier version.
     "It sounds like hocus pocus but it actually is real," he said, cutting himself a nice big piece. It does sound like hocus pocus, all right, but that's "The Dr. Oz Show." You do the hokey pokey, and you turn yourself around. That's what it's all about!
    Perhaps Dr. Andrew Weil says it best: " For weight loss, I know of no supplements or shortcuts that are effective. The best way to lose weight is by healthy eating and increasing physical activity."

    The extravaganza of excitement (among viewers and retailers) and scandal (in the medical community) over Oz's dazzling embrace of costly "raspberry ketones" for weight loss was among his most memorable.  
    Oz said, "I have vetted these; I’ve looked at them carefully."
    Then, to dramatize their effect within the body, he put inflated red balloons ("fat cells") into liquid nitrogen, where they promptly collapsed. 
   "I am a big fan of these things!" he declared. "They're going to help your body think it's thin."
    (If your body "thinks" it's thin, does it automatically become thin?) 
    This segment became known as "the show that launched a million phone calls."
Raspberry Ketones are entirely synthetic and have never been tested in humans.
    Despite Oz's claim that each bottle contains the equivalent of 90 pounds of raspberries (each capsule equates to 1,000 berries), there are actually no raspberries whatsoever in this product. It is synthesized entirely in a laboratory (read the label, ladies -- they even use red food coloring). 

    The supplements that are billed as "raspberry ketones" are not "essence of raspberry." They are:
 (4-(4-hydroxyphenyl) butan-2-one),
whatever the hell that is. It's not a natural, luscious life-essence, that's for sure.
    I got the clear impression, from the massive wall of raspberries behind Oz on the stage, that if one consumed a bottle of raspberry ketones, she would be getting all the gorgeous vitamin and antioxidant benefits of 90 POUNDS OF RASPBERRIES, along with the "ketones."
    She would not. She would get a formation encompassing three atoms. Not sweet, juicy beauty.
   " If you want to burn fat all over your body, try this raspberry ketone supplement. Learn how it works to burn fat, helping you break through a weight-loss plateau," Oz declared.
   "Oz's theatrical endorsement of  this 'revolutionary metabolism booster that you’ve never heard of'" was appalling to registered dietician (with a master's of public health degree) Mary Hartley.


    "The hypothesis is that raspberry ketones affect biological activities that alter lipid metabolism. That fat-blasting claim rests on two small mice studies that show when mice are fed a high-fat diet supplemented with raspberry ketones they gain less body fat than expected. But be clear: raspberry ketones have not been studied in humans."
    In a study years ago on obese rats, the ketones did expedite fat-burning, according to Matt Schoeneberger, editor of "Evidence-Based Weight Loss." But a human would have to ingest  57 capsules a day to get the same dose, relative to body weight, he says. 
    Moreover, the only two studies -- one on mice and one on rats -- were reportedly done in Japan and South Korea on as few as six animals, and all of the subjects in one of the studies were male.
    Schoeneberger, who is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and has a Master's degree in Exercise Science, asks: "How is it that a health professional like Dr Oz, along with his staff and probably a few bucks, ends up giving such high praise to this supplement? 'Miracle Fat Burner.' Really!? At this time it is clear, from the evidence, that this is NOT a useful weight loss supplement."

    To strengthen his case, Dr. Oz asked his guest, personal trainer Lisa Lynn, if she has "lots of clients who swear by raspberry ketones." She agreed they "swear by it" and she has seen “firsthand results from this product” which, she claims,"basically slices up fat cells, making them easier to be burned as fuel." 
They "bust fat" by "slicing" fat cells. It's all very scientific!
    Can fat cells be "sliced up"? I don't think so!
    Although Lisa Lynn said the product is "just $12 a bottle," a month's supply of her "LynFit" ketones sells for $65.00 on her website -- more than $800 a year including shipping. She urges customers to pair this miracle supplement with her branded "Cutting Edge" pills and "Complete Protein Shake" as well, "for optimum results." Unlike more reputable supplement dealers, she doesn't include a copy of the product label with her ad, disclosing only that her "LynFit Accelerator with Raspberry Ketones" is a "special blend of herbs and nutrients." 
    Buying this pricey trio of products is "a no-brainer," she adds.
   Raspberry ketone is a stimulant, like so many other weight loss supplements, according to Diets in Review resident pharmacist Dr. Sarah G. Khan. Although Dr. Oz's guest, Lisa Lynn, said the supplement has  "no side effects," Khan warns that it may increase heart rate and affect blood pressure as well as the thyroid.
    Other common side effects of such compounds include difficulty sleeping and agitation. Khan added that the supplement may interact with a number of medications, and would not recommend it to anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma or who is taking antidepressants. 
    Jessica Drummond, a fitness coach and nutritional expert with substantially more credentials than Lisa Lynn, discounts the value of the animal studies and agrees with Khan that the supplement could be dangerous for some people. "It poses risks to your endocrine system and heart," she says.
   "(Lisa Lynn's) word is apparently meant to substitute for randomized, controlled research published in peer-reviewed journals (which don't exist)," writes Mary Hartley, RD, MPH.

    Among the experts -- those who have no financial stake in the matter -- raspberry ketones are characterized as "promising" at best. The hype and the millions of dollars in sales seem to be grossly premature. 
    Now you can be "cellulite free for life" by purchasing a raspberry-ketone infused cream. Once these ideas become a twinkle in the entrepreneurial eye, they explode everywhere. I expect the ketone facelift, butt lift and breast lift can't be far behind.
    Oz provides so many surefire weight-loss remedies, that there's no reason for any of us to even have a belly or a butt anymore. It's inexcusable!

This post was based upon material gathered while watching the "Dr. Oz Show" during 2011. In the ensuing two years, he has continued to inundate viewers with miracle diets, supplements and regimens. In my opinion, his program is sleazier than ever, but just as addictive.
Part Three of our trip to Oz, behind the tab at the top of the page, explores the issues of ethics and conflicts of interest in his celebrity career, as well as even more of his miraculous solutions to some of life's most vexing problems.