Dr. Oz, celebrity doctors not always right
Recently, a group of doctors from across the country accused Dr. Mehmet Oz of The Doctor Oz Show of promoting products that do not have health benefits for the purpose of financial gain. For this reason, the doctors called for the removal of Dr. Oz from his senior administrative position at Columbia University. The letter was spearheaded by Dr. Henry Miller, of Stanford University’s Hoover Institute.
Dr. Oz made a statement claiming that the doctors twisted his words and had misguided information. Whether the argument against Dr. Oz is true, we should be generally skeptical of the health information we hear from the media and discover online. Dr. Oz is a certified physician, but that does not mean that he is not susceptible to bribes or that the information he provides on the show has been researched or approved by him. Companies that supposedly make healthy products could offer the show an incentive to feature their product, and people like Dr. Oz might emphasize its health benefits even though they may not exist. Specifically, if a product that is featured by Dr. Oz has advertisements on the show or on that channel, then it would be unlikely that the show found the product and simply promoted it because it was such a great product.
In addition, the products promoted on the show could be the idea of someone behind the scenes, someone who is not even a medical doctor or nutrition expert. Doctors that have television shows are called celebrity doctors for a reason. With all their responsibilities as a television personality, I find it unlikely that they actually test out and know the performance of all the products they feature. Also, the public does not know the extent of which the doctors have knowledge of the practices they feature on the show or products they advocate for.
In addition, Dr. Oz is sharing his information to a nationwide audience, not just one person. His diagnosis and suggestions are not catered to one person’s specific health or body type. This would also greatly decrease the effectiveness of his information and the products he promotes.
In terms of promoting unhealthy products, this is a serious health threat to many. People relying on these products for weight loss, to lower their cholesterol or other health concerns could be ingesting products that are not helpful or healthy. Even if these products are not necessarily malignant, if they are scam or placebo products then they are wasting people’s time and money.
The doctors on health talk shows have a responsibility to provide the most accurate information, but there is no guarantee that they will. Dr. Oz also has received accusations from the federal government claiming that he featured deceptive weight loss products on his show.
Although medical television shows like Dr. Oz can have a positive effect in terms of promoting healthier eating and exercise habits to the national population, some messages they disseminate can be potentially dangerous. People should consult their personal doctors about the health products that they are interested in before using it. They should also accumulate information from various sources in order to identify the best health products for their level of nutrition and wellness.
Other issues with the media and health arise from the existence of websites like WebMD and Medical News Today. Thanks to the Internet, endless health information at our fingertips can cause us to overreact when we have an ache or pain. According to WebMD, the cough you’ve had for a week could be the common cold or a symptom of pneumonia. Since we are able to look up information about various sicknesses and symptoms online, we are quick to diagnose ourselves despite the lack of medical training.
The Internet and television have revolutionized how we receive health information. Although these sources are convenient and can at times prove useful, we should rely on our personal doctors for health information that is adjusted to our personal needs.
Courtney Han is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in journalism and media studies and political science. Her column, “Fit Wit,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.