Saturday, January 8, 2011

FTC action proves yet again that Oz's ethics and expertise need to gain weight

Sorry ladies: Acai is no weight-loss miracle. Oz misoverestimated it.
    (Jan. 8, 2014) Four companies that sell weight-loss products, three of which have been promoted by "The Dr. Oz Show," have been charged with deceptive marketing practices and fined $34 million, according to an article in yesterday's New York Times.
    This is really quite an anticlimax. Anyone who follows Oz, and who has half a brain, realizes that MOST of the "astonishing," "miraculous," "surefire," and "life-changing" strategies he proposes for weight loss, wrinkle prevention, and a mind-numbing list of other health concerns, are simply bogus. He must have hired "Daily Show"-wannabe interns who simply make most of it up, laughing hysterically as they do so.
    The FDA repudiated claims by the HCG diet, Sensa, and LeanSpa (which peddles acai extract), and vowed to crack down on an industry that is rife with unsubstantiated claims, adulterated products and deception.

Dr. Oz hyped the HCG diet in a variety of media.
     The kind of beefed-up scrutiny which the FTC is promising has never deterred Oz, and there's no reason why it should. People continue to run out and buy every "newly discovered," "breakthrough" product he introduces, and the regulators appear to spend most of their time playing computer games, rather than policing the marketplace for fraud. Oz has weathered every storm over his credibility, emerging with a cute swagger, a big grin and the glow of immense wealth. 
    Remember Raspberry Ketones? And green coffee beans? And Garcinia Cambogia Extract ("Just take 15000 mg. daily and watch the magic.") Remember 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!" Remember how to "Eat twice as much and lose 10 pounds this month"? 
    The list goes on forever ( The best one was "hypnotize yourself into thinking you've had weight-loss surgery!" That cutie-pie "doctor" has given us some fun memories.
    Oz's early disdain for the scandalous HCG diet seemed sober and principled ( This highly dubious regimen involves getting daily injections of the prescription HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone produced during pregnancy) and subsisting on only 500 calories a day. It became an Internet sensation, as countless marketers made something they claimed was a nonprescription dose of HCG available.
    "Ultimately, it destroys your metabolism, as you are essentially starving yourself. Another negative side effect is the loss of muscle mass, so much that you will no longer be able to effectively burn calories," Oz warned.
    But then he decided to share a "shocking revelation about this weight-loss blockbuster."
    He revealed that his wife had undergone the diet treatment, which seemed odd, since he knows of so many weight-loss "miracles" that are perfectly safe. "It was incredibly effective," he told his worshipful fans.
Effective? Lisa Oz is gorgeous, but she is quite a meaty girl.

    "Dr. Oz spent the bulk of the show obtaining testimonials from HCG sellers and dieters, spent a scant amount of time with HCG detractors, mentioned that the complete and utter lack of medical evidence to support its use was counter-balanced by the four people he had in his audience who had succeeded in losing weight, called for further study, suggested it was worth a try, and wondered if future research into it may in fact lead to a cure for obesity," wrote Yoni Freedhoff, an Ottawa physician. "He totally sold himself out."
     In December, 2011, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission had said over-the-counter weight loss products containing human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) are fraudulent and illegal, and the agencies ordered seven manufacturers to stop selling them.  
    A meta analysis in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that studies supporting HCG for weight loss were of poor methodological quality and concluded, "There is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity; it does not bring about weight-loss or fat-redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being."
If it's from the placenta, it must be miraculous, right?
    "Critics say Dr. Oz promotes pseudoscience at best and quackery at worst, but despite this -- the man sells," writes eVitamin senior editor Michael Angelino. "Consumers trust his recommendations, retailers must stock his recommended products and manufacturers drool at the opportunity to get their products promoted on his show." 
     Despite all the controversy, the scathing attacks from the scientific community and regulatory action, Dr. Oz stood by HCG in a 2013 interview with iVillage. He said  new research, has made him "more supportive" of the weight loss regimen than ever. 
    "It's got to be done carefully, has to be done with a doctor who's reputable," he told iVillage. "We don't know enough to guarantee it's going to be effective. It's still an experiment but this is not some crazy wacky idea. It deserves to be studied."
    But he's proposed so many "transformative" weight-loss strategies before and since HCG -- many of which involve "just lying there," or "eating whatever you want" -- that HCG seems like "just another brick in the wall." Why bother with something that isn't "surefire"?

Hey, this sounds real promising, and Oz says "go ahead!"
    Sensa, which "helps you feel satisfied from less food," and "kicks your cravings to the curb," is a granulated product that you simply sprinkle on your meal "and you just eat less of it!" according to the firm's web site.
    How do these miracles keep happening? There must be a God after all -- a Diet God.
     In a November 2012 blog post, Dr. Oz asked, "Sensa: Is this Right for You?" His conclusion lacked scientific rigor, which is par for the course, and was as limp as his hair was before he started using mousse. "Because the FDA has deemed the ingredients in Sensa to be safe, there’s no harm in trying this program," he wrote. "It might work for some, but it may not work for others." 
Your're just a sprinkle away from a sexy, skinny new you!
     It MAY not work? And this is a billionaire, Harvard-educated, best-selling medical doctor who is advising his millions of fans about the life-and-death issue of obesity?
    He often refers to his "crack team of experts and researchers" who help put his show together. I guess the word "crack" makes real sense, when you think about the haze these people must be in to formulate these "medical opinions."

     Over the years, Oz has enticed us with countless "secrets from the furthest reaches of the globe." (He's hyped so many "rainforest treasures"  -- acai, guarana, graviola, cat's claw, Tamanu oil, gogi, mangosteen, Tongkat Ali, African Mango, red palm oil  -- that one wonders if his program, which is aired around the world, is not ripping asunder this precious ecosystem.) 

Maybe you lose weight by climbing the acai tree?

    If any one of his "truly earth-shattering" weight-loss secrets was effective, he wouldn't be hauling more of them out -- day after day, year after year. And aren't most of us still kind of chubby?
   The FTC fined LeanSpa for marketing acai and colon cleanses as diet solutions, or -- as Oz prefers to phrase it -- as "belly blasters" and "butt busters."
    Oz's promotion of acai on his show caused the usual stampede, both online and on the highways and byways of America, as desperate women scrambled to buy some before everybody else scooped it all up. 
A yummy, nutritious new fad food. High in calories.
    On his web site, he wasn't such a huckster, but he certainly didn't say anything to dampen the enthusiasm.
    "There are many claims that acai berry supplements cause rapid weight loss. While these claims are difficult to substantiate, acai berries do contain healthful constituents that could aid in a weight loss program that is based on proper nutrition and exercise. In particular, acai berries contain healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which may increase the body's metabolism, enabling it to burn unwanted fat stores. Acai berries also contain high levels of fiber, which aid in digestion and may make an individual feel fuller for a longer period of time. It is important to purchase acai products from a reputable source, such as a trusted natural food store."

    It is important not to purchase them at all, for weight loss, according to the FTC. 
    Let's just keep rubbing coffee grounds, and squid ink, and mashed jicama spiked with cayenne, and meringue with strawberry puree, and horseradish, and almond creme (another FTC target) into our "Thunder Thighs," taking freezing-cold showers (burns calories like crazy!), and eating five pistachios 30 minutes before dinner. If these measures doesn't work, Oz says, nothing will. 
    But, seriously, if they don't, he's got oceanfront property in Arizona that is guaranteed to give you "the body of your dreams."