Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Tale of Two Oz's

First Dr. Oz the doctor who during his interview with Maclean's Science-ish's Julia Belluz, commented on the benefits of raspberry ketones for weight loss by stating,
"The amount of weight you’ll lose is two, three, four pounds more than you would have."
He also qualifies the statement with a "could be"

And how about Dr. Oz the television personality?

The episode on raspberry ketones was literally entitled,"Miracle Fat-Burner in a Bottle".

Dr. Oz the television personality described them as,
"I never understood how powerful it could be until I started doing research",
that he's,
"a big fan of these things",
and then to demonstrate how they supposedly worked in the body, took red balloons that he called fat cells and put them into liquid nitrogen where they promptly deflated.

To help make his case he brings on Lisa Lynn, a trainer who, yup, you guessed it, sells raspberry ketone supplements ($791.76 for a year's supply), and near the end of the segment he asks her,
"I want to be practical, I don't want to over promise, how long will it take to see a benefit"
Her unchallenged answer?
"5 days"
They then go through some exceedingly dramatic before and after photos, without commentary as to what changes aside from taking raspberry ketones the subjects had undertaken, and with the second subject a frank discussion that overtly suggested it was just the raspberry ketones that had done the trick.

His conclusions?
"I think this is worth experimenting with",
and that,
"they're going to help your body think it's thin."
The science behind raspberry ketones, if you want to call it that, are two shaky mouse studies....but even if we take them to be fully translatable into humans (a gigantic and unwarranted "if", but I'll be generous), let's go back to Dr. Oz the doctor who points out we're talking a 3lb (I split the difference) total loss consequent to their ingestion.

The miracle here isn't raspberry ketones. The miracle here, and it's not a pretty one, is that a doctor is recommending his patients (because his viewers see him as a purveyor of expertly vetted medical advice) spend $791.76 a year for a remotely plausible, but admittedly not conclusively attainable, 3lb total weight loss, and that he's describing that 3lb loss as, "powerful", "amazing", and, "a miracle".

Though I guess it's not exactly a miracle. It's just fame and fortune - powerful, powerful, drugs which seem in Dr. Oz' case, to allow for some interesting rationalizations.

[Pssst, hey, want a super secret miraculous way to lose those 3lbs without spending hundreds of dollars on questionable supplements?  Try a 3 minute walk a day.  A year later, those same 3lbs will be gone.]