Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dr. Oz - so corrupted by fame he even sells himself out?

The other day I received a note from the Dr. Oz PR team informing me of his upcoming show (aired two days ago) on the HCG diet.

For those of you who don't know, the HCG diet is one of those ridiculous injection diets. The kind where you see a physician who prescribes an insanely low number of daily calories (500) along with injections. Here in Canada those injections are usually B-vitamins , while in the States they're often Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG injections for weight loss aren't kosher here in Canada).

The scientific literature on HCG as a weight loss aid is extremely clear. Randomized, double-blinded, placebo controlled trials have demonstrated that HCG shots don't work any better than shots of salt water at appetite suppression or weight loss.

In fact as Travis once pointed out on Obesity Panacea, the disclaimers on HCG providers' own websites speak for themselves as to HCG's utility,

"HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or "normal" distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets"
The show was predictable. Dr. Oz spent the bulk of the show obtaining testimonials from HCG providers and dieters, mentioned how his wife has done the HCG diet, 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 4 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.

And while that's shocking to anyone who cares about evidence based medicine, it's not so shocking for Dr. Oz as he's long since sold himself out to non-scientific, non-evidence based woo, even promoting a faith healer on his show.

What is perhaps news is a link sent to me by Weight Maven's Beth Mazur. It's a link to one of Dr. Oz' own webpages entitled, "The Shortcuts Dr. Oz Would Never Take" and it was posted just 3 short months ago.

The first shortcut "Dr. Oz would never take"?

The HCG Diet.

Here's what he said about it just 3 months ago,
"Initially, this diet may help you rapidly drop pounds. 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."
And now?
"If you find someone like Dr. Emma (the HCG provider he had on his show), I think it's worth trying"
And how much will it cost his viewers who take his advice to try the diet scientifically proven to be useless and the one he himself rightly reports is likely to dramatically impact on muscle mass, so much so that weight regain will be far more likely? Dr. Emma charges her patients $800 for 6 weeks of this sham treatment.

So thanks Dr. Oz for promoting the exploitation of your viewers, for embarrassing our shared profession, and for being such a stellar role model for how not to embrace fame and fortune.