Oprah's Dr. Oz Scolded over Weight Loss Products' Claims

Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, the doctor made a TV star by Oprah Winfrey, wasn't a big hit on Capitol Hill when Senators questioned his claims about certain weight loss products that could produce "miracle" results.

On June 17, Dr. Oz was called before a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee hearing to answer for weight loss product pronouncements that Senators believed were fraudulent.

"I don't get why you need to say this stuff, because you know it's not true," Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said pointedly. "The scientific community is almost monolithically against you in terms of the efficacy of the products you called 'miracles.'"

The TV doc, though, was adamant that fully believes in what he says.

"I do personally believe in the items that I talk about," Oz said. "I intensively study them. I have given my family these products… If you can lose a pound a week more than you would have lost by not using them, it jump-starts you and gets you going. I think it makes sense."

Despite his assurances, Senators continued to scold Oz for his claims.

Oz himself, though was only indirectly under suspicion. The problem Senator had was that his effusive rhetoric about the products have been used to sell the weight loss concoctions, even though Oz was not directly responsible for the products or their advertising.

The hearings are a result of recent actions by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

In May the FTC announced it was charging Pure Green Coffee for fraud over its weight loss claims. The Florida-based company has been using Dr. Oz' claims that its green coffee diet was a miracle weight loss system but the FTC insists that the company is making a "bogus" claim.

The FTC noted that only weeks after their product was discussed on the Dr. Oz Show the company began selling its product using video clips from the show.

The FTC further charged that the company presented its shaky claims on "websites they set up to look like legitimate news sites or blogs." The company also paid fees for ads on other sites that the FTC considered to be "fake news" sites. The FTC said these Internet sites were set up to look like news but were really just advertisements.

"Not only did these defendants trick consumers with their phony weight loss claims, they also compounded the deception by advertising on pretend news sites, making it impossible for people to know whether they were seeing news or an ad," Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said last month.

Still, Oz has attempted to force companies like Pure Green Coffee to stop using his likeness, clips of his show, or his words in their advertisements.

Oz offered an apology to the FTC.

"I know I've made their lives more difficult," he said. 

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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