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September 16, 2014

Senate Panel Goes Back to (Dr.) Oz | Madisonville

Senate Panel Goes Back to (Dr.) Oz | MadisonvilleSen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., brought a bit of glamour to the Senate to get to the bottom of why Americans want to lose weight without really trying. Dr. Mehmet Oz, the star of “The Dr. Oz Show,” came to explain why he speaks so kindly about products that McCaskill said combine promises of weight loss and a “lack of serious effort.”

You could tell Oz was a star because his entourage included somebody to knot his tie. Bright studio lights were stationed in the corners for the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance hearing Tuesday. Other witnesses knotted their own ties and mostly faded into the wings.

McCaskill gave Oz a tongue-lashing, telling him to stop talking about the benefits of green coffee bean extract, garcinia cambogia and raspberry ketone — “The number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat!” — on his show. “Why don’t you tell people to take a walk instead of a pill?” McCaskill asked. She was on such a roll that you expected her to accuse Oz of being the inspiration for the 64-oz. soda.

Poor Oz — “This is a huge problem for me.” — is finding his words showing up in the diet product ads.

Dr. “My Show Is About Hope” Oz protested that he was only trying to help his audience. His Hippocratic oath would have prevented him from sensing a business opportunity when Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., suggested Oz put together a list of weight-loss products he does consider helpful. “I would love to do that,” Oz said. “With your suggestions and support, I think I’m going to do it.”

The weight-loss industry must have been salivating at the publicity ahead. Americans will have to add the political-entertainment-weight-loss complex to the list of dark powers out to serve their own interests at the expense of the overeating rest of us.

Weight loss scams are apparently as popular as the all-you-can-eat specials available at so many restaurants. Eating less and exercising more don’t have the same appeal as an additive to your meal. Go figure. The Federal Trade Commission brought its first case — against a weight loss scam, not an all-you-can-eat meal — in 1927. Native Americans may have offered ground turkey feathers to departing Pilgrims after the first Thanksgiving to keep the weight off.

McCaskill pointed out that a third of adults are obese and more than 70 percent are obese or overweight. Given those statistics, the legitimate weight-loss products don’t sound like anything to cheer about either. But Oz will limit his kind words to those products that let Americans gain weight without any hype and shun those that let it happen with hype.

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