The (F)laws of Oz

Keep a grain of salt nearby.

Are you one of the millions who helped clear store shelves of green coffee beans after Dr. Oz suggested they might help with weight loss? Do you have raspberry ketone in your cabinet now, too? Oh, hold on to your love handles—now it’s capsicum extract that helps you burn more calories during your workout…if you eat something that has it in it before your workout. The miracle weight loss products change almost as fast as the scrolling headlines on Oz’s website. What strikes me is: All these “weight loss” agents require eating. I don’t know…is it just me? Or did weight loss used to mean get out of the kitchen and into the gym?

Oz is a highly intelligent and likeable man. I believe from what I’ve read about him (and from watching him talk) that he truly aims to impart important health information to as many people as possible. So there’s nothing malicious going on here. However… In order to get the masses to watch your show, you have to do a certain amount of kowtowing to what the masses want to see. And therein lies the rub. We can watch Dr. Oz and The Doctors, but we must then do our own research and be educated consumers. When we watch these shows, we have to assume—we MUST assume, it is our responsibility to assume—that some amount of kowtowing has been done. To the product makers, to the sponsors of the program, to the nature of those who watch daytime t.v.

Case in point: In an episode of The Doctors that I happened to catch while I was running on the treadmill, a young dancer voiced her concern that being lactose intolerant might be keeping her from enjoying the benefits that milk has to offer, namely weight management and strong bones. (Clearly she got the benefits straight from an ad for milk.) So the doctors welcome her up onto the stage to share with her a buffet spread of great ideas for how to get those benefits without lactose. (She even squealed, “I’m excited!”) First thing they asked her: “Can you drink even just a little bit of milk?” To which she made a scrunchy face and said, “Maybe a little…” I’m thinking, “What? Someone asks for milk-free ideas and you start by asking if she can drink milk? Where is this going?”

Anyway, they proceed to tell her she can pour a small amount of milk or Lactaid on some cereal—that will apparently make digestion go a bit smoother. Or—here! Look! You can have cheese! And Greek yogurt! Because we all know that cheese helps with weight management! WHAT??? The ENTIRE buffet was dairy products… for a girl who asked how she can get stronger bones without milk. Off the top of my head I was practically shouting aloud: Lentils! Broccoli! Leafy greens! What about legumes? Supplements? It could not have been more obvious that the dairy industry has a hand in the production of that show. Or at least that the show has a powerful fear of the industry’s fury.

A grain of salt, people. Carry that grain with you when you watch big-network t.v. Keep it in your pocket when you’re reading high-circulation magazines. Remember that monster industries are so powerful, they can swing entire elections—so it doesn’t take too much for them to hypnotize people into thinking “milk does a body good,” when, in fact, the more people I convince to give up dairy, the more pounds I see shed, the more cholesterol I hear about going down, the more energy my clients have.

TV doctors are not out to get us. They play a role in modern American medicine. But they work hard to make drama out of everyday medicine to keep viewers interested, and they are spurred on by advertisers who may or may not have our best interests at heart. So watch and read all you want, just make sure you do thorough research before you place your next Oz-recommended order on Amazon.

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