Dr. Mehmet Oz’s “miraculous” diet pill might not be all it cracks up to be. Recently, Dr. Oz promoted green coffee bean extract on his popular TV show, “The Dr. Oz Show,” as the “number one miracle” weight loss drug that makes you shed pounds at lightning speed without diet and exercise.
However, the claims appear to be fraudulent as the extract’s main research study has been formally retracted by its lead authors.
“The sponsors of the study cannot assure the validity of the data so we, Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham, are retracting the paper,” the scientists posted online. This paper was originally published as an article in a 2012 issue of Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy.
The Botched Study
Doubt of the validity of the study emerged when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint that the trial, funded by Applied Food Sciences Inc. and performed in India, had been tampered with on several occasions. According to the FTC, the researchers altered the weight of the participants in recording data, changed the length of the trial, and confused which subjects took the placebo and which took the extract.
“Applied Food Sciences knew or should have known that this botched study didn’t prove anything,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said when the company settled with the FTC in September. Vinson and Burnham, the study’s authors, said they didn’t initially suspect the data was phony, but retracted the paper as soon as its misrepresentation came to light.
Questioning Dr. Oz
Dr. Oz also came under fire from the Senate for endorsing this hoax. As a heart surgeon with three Ivy League degrees, nine published books and a thriving television show, his word is perceived as fact by many viewers. If he mentions a product on his show, sales for that product skyrocket in a matter of days, causing some people to call this phenomenon the “Dr. Oz Effect.”
Seeing his powerful influence on the dietary-supplement consumer and market, the Senate questioned Dr. Oz if he believed in the existence of a “magic” pill for weight loss. His response: “No.”
To the question, “Do you believe that there’s a miracle pill out there?” he replied, “There’s not a pill that is going to let you, long term, lose weight and live the best life without diet and exercise.”
And yet, that’s precisely what he claimed with the coffee bean extract pill. On his show, he made far-reaching assertions that consumers could lose 18 pounds in 22 weeks without changing their lifestyle habits, namely diet and exercise. For scientific backing, he cited the study conducted by Applied Food Sciences.
Dr. Oz did admit that he uses flowery language to engage the viewer, and sometimes presents his opinion of products rather than facts, because scientific evidence is lacking. However, many people indeed take his word for fact since he is a professional, renowned doctor. This leads some to question his ethics. At the Senate hearing, Dr. Oz said he is a “cheerleader” for his audience, but we know that enthusiasm and good television should never come before professional integrity and truly science-backed information.
What consumers need to keep in mind is that the dietary-supplement industry is extremely under-regulated. The FTC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration can only scratch the surface of all the existing diet products, and supplement companies are essentially left to regulate themselves.
What we can do to combat this clutter of questionable products is instead of focusing on a fast fix for our weight problems, take the tried-and-true steps of healthy eating and more exercise.
With that, we hope that Dr. Oz will learn from this recent scolding by presenting products and information that are more scientifically sound.
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Photo Source: SVFoods