Why Are People Outraged That Dr. Oz Is Guest-Hosting Jeopardy?

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Dr. Oz

Millions of Americans tune in to Dr. Oz every week in an effort to learn more about the latest health and wellness trends. But this week, Jeopardy fans can tune in to Dr. Oz guest-hosting everyone's favorite trivia game show — and many are not pleased.

Be it on a game show or shilling weight-loss supplements, is Dr. Oz really worth listening to? We investigate some of the claims he has made, as well as his credentials in an effort to weed out the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. And we do so in the form of a question.

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Who The Heck Is Dr. Oz?

In case you've been living under a rock for much of the last two decades, Dr. Oz (full name Mehmet Oz) is a TV personality who has since 2009 hosted a show called — you guessed it — The Dr. Oz Show. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard and obtained his MD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986, as well as an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

Prior to hosting his own show, he appeared as a health expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show for five seasons. He also has authored hundreds of research papers, books, and peer-reviewed articles in medical journals, and is the co-founder of Sharecare Inc., which is an interactive Q&A platform that allows industry experts to answer health-related questions.

What "Miracle Cures" He Has Raved About?

Anyone who has watched the show for any length of time knows that Dr. Oz touts a number of different all-natural extracts and plants that are the latest "cure" for a wide range of conditions. The list goes on and on. For weight loss, he has touted such natural extracts as acai berry, goji berry, green coffee extract, and Raspberry Ketones. For anti-aging, he promotes a wide variety of "cures" like Vitamin B3 cream, Bearberry extract, and lipowheat capsules. He talks about these in many of his on-air segments, and many of them sound quite intriguing. I mean, who wouldn't want to take a pill and lose weight or look younger overnight?

What Refutable Claims Has He Made?

Well, there was that time he seriously oversold the danger of juice boxes, warning his audience of the dangers of arsenic levels in apple juice. The Food and Drug Administration, as well as his former classmate and ABC News health editor Dr. Richard Besser, spoke out against the claims. "Mehmet, I'm very upset about this. I think that this was extremely irresponsible," Dr. Besser said. "It reminds me of yelling fire in a movie theater." The FDA stated, "There is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices." 

In another incident, Oz gave equal airtime to groups against and in favor of "reparative therapy" (better known as "conversion therapy") for LGBTQ+ people, without refutation, despite the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other respected organizations stating that such change efforts are not only ineffective but harmful. By giving both groups an equal platform, the implication is that both sides have merit, despite the protestations of the medical and psychiatric communities.

As for those weight-loss supplements he mentions on his show — do they really work? Not necessarily. The study on green coffee bean was ultimately retracted, and while Raspberry Ketones has been shown in some research to help boost metabolism, which in theory should help you lose weight, it has never been tested on humans.

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So Should You Believe Him?

Dr. Oz has come under a lot of pressure from lawmakers and politicians accusing him of making false and unsubstantiated claims about supplements and extracts, which in turn is fueling bogus marketers using his name to promote a wide variety of all-natural supplements. But the problem isn't just with Dr. OZ, though he admitted in a Senate panel interview led by former Sen. Clarie McCaskill that some of the products he's endorsed and promoted “don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact” and that he "used flowery language...which was meant to be helpful, but wound up being incendiary and provided fodder for unscrupulous advertisers."

Another problem is with the people taking advantage of his name to promote the things he raves about. Case in point, there are numerous "flogs" (fake blogs) and supposed news reports that use his likeness to promote a wide variety of extracts he praises. They use lines like "As Seen On Dr. Oz!" and quotes like "Number one miracle in a bottle to burn fat, as mentioned by Dr. Oz."  Rob Miller, founder of the popular supplement review blog SupplementCritique.com, explains, "Dr. Oz knows his stuff, but when he mentions how effective something is at helping with weight loss, the scammers are listening." In turn, entire industries literally pop up overnight selling anything he preaches, often as a free trial. Dr. Oz and Oprah Winfrey have settled lawsuits with multiple companies using their images to promote acai berry products.

Will Dr. Oz be the next successor to Alex Trebek? If the reaction on Twitter is any indication, his hosting duties may go the way of green coffee bean: ultimately retracted.

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Rob Miller is the founder of SupplementCritique.com, a leading industry resource on a wide variety of supplements. He is an avid sports and nutrition enthusiast who has been taking supplements since he was 18.