Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Dr. Oz Effect

I don't often watch the Dr. Oz show, but every day I find out exactly what his topics were on his show that morning, even without checking the website or looking at the TV Guide. No, I'm not psychic or telepathic or anything, but instead I find out this information based on the random supplement requests (and sometimes food requests) we get from customers. Sometimes I wonder why he doesn't call himself "Dr. Supplements".

Check out his website and tell me what you think. BUT WAIT! STOP! Before you click the link....

Source: istock photo

Grab a stress ball, because you're going to need it!
Source: istock photo

After all, this website is really just one giant fad diet in disguise. Not to say that his information is inaccurate. In fact, the first couple times I watched his show several years ago I really enjoyed it. But as his show has evolved it's turned into a giant mess in my opinion. His show and his website are filled with about a thousand different options for how to "lose weight" and "be healthier" and you have to decide which one you want to choose...or heck, do them all! (hence the reason for the stress ball, for someone like me who just thinks this is information overload!).

Like I said at the beginning of this post, literally every day I have two or three (if not more) customers come into the store asking for a product that Dr. Oz is promoting. I call it "Dr. Oz's product of the day". Very rarely is is food based.

Have you heard of any of the following?

  • Keto-7
  • Raspberry ketones
  • Satiereal Saffron supplements
  • Artichoke heart root
  • Coconut palm sugar
And did you know they are miracle cures for weight loss, lethargy, decreasing blood sugar, and so much more?! Note: I'm joking.
I could easily turn this post into a complete Dr. Oz bash post, but I won't. After all, I respect him in many ways. I think he's a brilliant man, I just don't think he understands the impact he has on American's, and how much of what he says and/or puts on his website is making people think that weight loss and health is as simple as taking A, B, and C.
Another issue is how much of what he says is misconstrued. Dr. Oz can make one statement on his show and it can get manipulated in so many ways. I had a women once tell me she was drinking 100% grapefruit juice because Dr. Oz said it would speed up metabolism and help her burn anything "bad" that she ate. Yikes. Sounds like adding insult to injury in my opinion.
And for others (like me), it's making health and wellness more complicated, because much of what he talks about on his show are products that I've never heard of and that simply can't be found in normal stores. In Dr. Oz's world, as it seems, the perfect cocktail of health is not found in food, but in supplements. So..... what should we eat?!

Dear Dr. Oz,

Why not focus more on whole foods, exercise, and good nutrition?

And why not be honest with your audience and let them know that losing weight is difficult, and maintaining that weight loss is even MORE difficult. Be there to support them and lift them up, give them motivation, and assure them that while it is difficult, it's doable, as long as you do it right by taking your time and making the appropriate lifestyle changes. Dr. Oz, you have the entire nation listening to you, TAKE ADVANTAGE! You're teaching people that weight loss (or beautiful skin, or wound healing, or getting a six-pack) is as simple as taking a pill, and you may not realize you are doing this, but I hear it every day.


Gina Casagrande (a frustrated dietitian)

QUESTION: What are your thought son Dr. Oz? It's ok if you love him and love his show, I like him too, I just wish he would change his platform a bit (ok, a lot!) Do you have any suggestions for Dr. Supplements....I mean Dr. Oz?

One last thing for the day. Thank you for all of your wonderful comments on my last post. I received the following question from a reader;

I've struggled with anorexia for 11 years. I'm curious, when you say you have to "watch what you eat" in order to not gain, is it different than watching what you eat to lose (follow the ED)?

Here is my answer:

Yes, it is much, much different. Actually, when I had an eating disorder I was more obsessed with not gaining, rather than necessarily losing. When I lost weight I considered it a bonus, but I was more obsessed with controlling my weight and keeping it at 90 pounds (or around there). Now I feel much more comfortable in my own skin, and if I gain a pound or two I do not have the same reaction as I did back in those days. Now I have a more realistic and healthy attitude and reaction towards any shifts in weight, and I don't let a number ruin my entire day, as I did in the past. Thanks for your question, and I promise you will get to this point at one time too!

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  1. Ha ha, this post cracked me up. Isn't it funny how we all have our own things within our professions that drive us crazy?

    I like the idea that Dr. Oz is helping people be more healthy but I agree that he complicates it a lot, and that may have to do with the fact that he has to find something "new" to say every day. :) Perhaps we should start a show with you as the star!

  2. wow, that is so crazy that you can DIRECTLY see the influence he is! kinda scary too!

  3. I must say that I agree with your thoughts on his show 100%, and like you, I respect him as a doctor, but that is his profession, not nutrition. Perhaps if he wants to go that route he should study it just the same as we did. There is more to nutrition than textbook learning and the latest research. Dietitians know how to use that information to make it workable and useable for every day people. I watch the show from time to time (cringing and holding the remote in case I need to change it quickly) just so I know what he is telling people so I know what I may hear around from people on the internet or on the base. It really is too much information and I am not a huge supplement fan, especially when most people look at supplements as "miracle cures" and don't realize they can't replace a healthy diet. Eating junk and taking supplements doesn't make you healthy. Great post! I don't think I could have said this better myself.

  4. I found this article about Dr. Oz interesting. It discusses how he basically inflates the value of certain supplements on his TV show for ratings purposes whereas he wouldn't do that in, say, an interview.

  5. THANK YOU!!! Dr. Oz bothers me beyond belief, and I had to stop watching! MAGICAL CURES for weight loss?! Come on people! I totally agree, we need to fight the health care crisis with prevention by proper nutrition and self-care! Bravo, Gina!

  6. I kinda feel like anyone, Dr. Oz, Oprah, authors cashing in on books in the self-help department are fiscally taking advantage of those with poor self esteem, or unhealthy self perceptions or those too cheap or afraid to go to an actual doctor and talk to them about their problems by promising to fix things or being "cure-all." Not to mention all the homeopathy stuff... No offense essential oils... but my dad tried treating diabetes with cinnamon and then wound up in a diabetic coma.

    I mean, there are disclaimers all over stuff like that... but if one is looking for a magical ABC method of losing weight... it's called eating right and exercising.

  7. I LOVE this post! My mom is one of those people that hangs onto every last word from Dr. Oz. After watching his show once, she was CONVINCED she needed INCA NUTS (!?) for menopusal symptoms. We went to Whole Foods and they were out. The employees were like, "We never sold ANY until today and within 2 hours, we're sold out!"...all because of Dr. Oz. CRAZY! And they were like $17!!!

  8. THANK YOU!!! Doctor Oz drives me up the wall-- he promotes so many supplements and "super" foods...dude, whatever happened to plain old healthy eating and exercise?!

  9. Yes...I like Dr. Oz for the days when he brings attention to the factors that are slowly killing us by not knowing.

    Yes...I am terribly irritated with the direction he show has taken pushing supplements and quick fixes. Mostly, because I fell into the supplement track. When he promoted CLA on his show as a way to help reduce belly fat, I rushed right over to my vitamin store to purchase a bottle.

    I barely take my regular multivitamin, now I've added on another pill that I don't take regularly. I'm mad at the pill because it's not working (duh...) and at myself for falling into the trap.

    So I know prefer to watch Ellen or cartoons or the best thing ever - exercise and skip Dr. Oz altogether.

  10. Agree. My professors have already warned us to be prepared to field questions from people in regards to things they see on Dr. Oz or other TV shows. I just don't understand why he promotes all these silly things. He has the potential to do SO much good with the power that he has, but he's not, and that's frustrating.

    In my community nutrition class, we've talked a lot about policy, and how the people who are making decisions relating to nutrition and policy are NOT the ones professionally trained in nutrition. It's the same with nutrition advise we read or see in the mass media -- often it's NOT from a dietitian! I really hope that several years down the road, people who are actually RDs get more of a say in things and are able to have better platforms for getting accurate information out to the public. It's great we're able to do this with blogs and such but I would LOVE to see a dietitian hosting a show like Dr. Oz's and focusing on the things you suggested, rather than fad diets and quick fixes.

  11. My opinion of Dr. Oz has changed in the same way as yours---people really are confused and overloaded by him. It's just too much, and way too many supplements.
    He has a great opportunity to positively influence people's lifestyle choices...and he's giving the impression that supplements are the focus.
    I don't watch anymore (not that I ever did consistently).

  12. I like the name you have given him - Dr. Supplement is very fitting! :) I don't like that the show is more and more turning into a game show, and that he is recommending new supplements in every show it seems.

    He does address important topics I think, but often he barely scratches the surface, which is sad. I wish he'd do in depth shows rather than superficial, supplement driven shows. I'm sure a lot has to do with ratings though...

  13. Just posted this on my wellness coaching facebook page. :)

  14. You are AWESOME!!! :) It is a love hate relationship with me. I love that he is an advocate for good health and he does bring on registered dietitians and other respected professionals within the profession. He is controversial and I like this because he make us think. These supplements were around way before he was so it a way it keeps us (the professionals) on our toes to see what is out there...HOWEVER to the public this can be seen as an instant gratification to problem solving...and we know there is no such thing! It is a love hate...agree Candid!!

  15. dude i feel like any time dr. oz is anywhere he talks about supplements, sex and poop hahaha dude needs more material, right!

  16. I've never actually watched dr. oz so I can give opinion on that, but I do agree that for someone so famous and thT he can reach a large population, he must be responsible of what he promote. I don't know why people just want to do the hard way, taking tons of supplements instead of d the simplest and obvious thing, eat healthy and exercise.

  17. just thank you for writing this. I swear I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I swear it seems he's gone even beyond that of most doctors and is truly golden or something. HOW DARE I NOT LOVVVVVE DR. OZ?! I quit watching his show over a year ago because it was just constant bombardment every single day to top whatever discovery of a miracle supplement had been on the day before. If a person actually took all of those supplements day after day how would you even have time to eat real food?! I will admit I DID watch his show the first year it came on because I was "hungry" for more and more info. But now - I'm just over-saturated and overwhelmed and trying to find my own way again as to what works best for me and is healthiest based on sound nutritional advice, tried and true. I do pay attention to new studies but I don't rush to judgment or life-altering decisions. YES IT IS FREAKIN' HARD TO LOSE WEIGHT AND MAINTAIN IT. I lost 70 pounds 8 years ago and have maintained most of it (regained 5-10 up/down/up/down-ugghh!) all these years thru diligence and a lot of consistent physical work. No magic. And now that I'm about to turn 48 it seems to have turned into a whole new ball game of sorts. What worked 8 years ago DOES NOT work anymore. I'm having to learn new things all over again involving all kinds of hormones now. But turning to all these supplements. No thank you. it just makes my head spin. Thanks for your post!! Allyson

  18. Completely agree with your comments about Dr. Oz!

  19. So many people out there are just out to make money from a naive public that lack education about basic nutrition - and in my eyes Dr Oz is no different. Great post!

  20. Terrific blog post. I have to say I find Dr. Oz's diet advice confusing as well. I don't like any of these daytime medical advice shows. They are informative, but they leave too much room for misinterpretation.

  21. I wish I could hug you. I have friends at a local health food store and they say the same thing. People come in in droves and it's usually for a supplement. I watched yesterday and he was bashing MDs giving meds for GI issues (you would've loved) and then went on this supplement spree. Dr Oz is great, warm and patient in person and super smart. However, when you have to fill an hour every can veer. I wonder f they upped the content of personal stories, people who have lost weight or conquered health issues it would be as popular. In any case, keep setting people straight. I love coconut palm sugar (didn't hear of it from Oz) can I say that?

  22. Nice post. For a bit of light relief you might enjoy this cartoon about the food pyramid.

  23. Used to love him too, but the constant "miracle supplement" every other day is just too much. His website is very complicated and hard to use and difficult to find anything he talks about in an easy way. The topper for me is his endorsement of TM (Transcendental Meditation) to his viewers. It would be fine if he was endorsing meditation, but to encourage his viewers to spend $1500 for this program which is nothing more than a big business secretive cult is appalling.

  24. I just stumbled on your blog, and I realize this post was written some time ago, but I also have feelings on the Dr. Oz show not related specifically to nutrition. I am a physical therapy student at Ohio State in their graduate program, and had specific thoughts on an episode of Dr. Oz. While most of what Dr. Oz covers appears to be weight-loss based, he did a segment recently on low back pain and advocated treatments and claimed these treatments were basically the gold standard in physical therapy practice for low back pain when in fact they were treatments that we rarely use (at least at OSU. As with weight loss, return to normal function after injury takes time and work on behalf of a patient, but Dr. Oz made recovering from low back pain look like something you could work on for 5 minutes and be done. Strength gains take 6-8 weeks alone, but there was no mention of this. I used to watch his show occasionally, but it appears there is little evidence based information on his show- just sensationalized quick fixes.