Dr. Oz's Advice "Borders on Quackery"

Dr. Mehmet Oz was propelled into stardom by his popular appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Now, he has his own television show, which seems to be an avenue for promoting strange products.Dr Oz

For business communication students, the example reminds us how important it is to check facts. Does the board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon not review research of the products he promotes?

Slate describes Dr. Oz's enthusiasm for garcinia extract, which he says will finally help people "burn fat without spending every waking moment exercising and dieting":

"He then told his audience about a 'breakthrough,' 'magic,' 'holy grail,' even 'revolutionary' new fat buster. 'I want you to write it down,' America's doctor urged his audience with a serious and trustworthy stare. After carefully wrapping his lips around the exotic words 'Garcinia cambogia,' he added, sternly: 'It may be the simple solution you've been looking for to bust your body fat for good.'"

But garcinia cambogia has been studied for more than 15 years, and a JAMA article calls its anti-obesity results no better than a placebo. One of the study's authors, Edzard Ernst, said the product could have negative gastrointestinal effects and told Slate, "Dr. Oz's promotion of this and other unproven or disproven alternative treatments is irresponsible and borders on quackery."

Educated at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Oz presents himself as a credible source, but research does not support what he promotes. Slate compares more of Dr. Oz's recommendations to the "best available research." In most cases, his advice (e.g., to take zinc, Vitamin D, and DHA) doesn't match up. The so-called "Oz Effect"-people spending lots of money on products presented on his show-can be dangerous. As Ernst says, "Using bogus treatments for serious conditions may cost lives."

Image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • Watch some of Dr. Oz's show. In addition to his status as a doctor, how else does he present himself as a credible promoter of these products. Pay attention to his language, dress, mannerisms, etc.
  • Why do people so easily believe Dr. Oz? What is the audience's responsibility in the "Oz Effect"?