John Oliver Hammered Dr. Oz’s Unethical Pushing of Supplements, Inspiring Debate We Need to Have

john-oliver-dr-ozEven though his show is fairly new, John Oliver is making quite the name for himself every Sunday night.  The HBO show Last Week Tonight has become one of my go-to shows to watch every week.

That was especially the case last week when Oliver spent over half his show addressing how poorly regulated our supplement industry is.  His primary focus, however, was on daytime star Dr. Oz, who’s essentially become a shill for these companies pushing pills that have little or no scientific backing to support what they claim they do.

Their claims, however, being legal because of how poorly regulated the supplement industry is.  As Oliver said, the way the law is set up is such that the FDA can’t really do much until people start getting sick from using a particular product.

He showed clips from Dr. Oz’s testimony in front of Congress where the good doctor admitted that there’s no miracle pill out there that will cause someone to lose weight.  This went along with Oliver showing segments from Dr. Oz’s show where he made claims of “magical beans” or “miraculous pills” for weight loss.

Oliver said, “The only problem with the ‘Dr. Oz effect’ is that magic pills don’t technically exist – and Dr. Oz knows that.”

He also mentioned how a supposed “magical bean” Dr. Oz pushed on his show was found to give mice early symptoms of diabetes.

This is all dangerous because Dr. Oz seems to be exploiting the fact that he’s actually a real doctor in order to peddle unsubstantiated nonsense on a show that millions of people tune into for medical advice.

Though Dr. Oz claims that he doesn’t receive any money from the products he endorses.

That could be true, but he’s well aware of the millions of Americans who tune into his show looking for the next “miracle bean/pill” that’s supposedly going to help them lose weight.  So while he might not be getting paid directly by these companies, he’s making millions off his viewers who probably wouldn’t tune in if he wasn’t promoting supplements that he tells them are “magical.”

Now one could argue that it’s the responsibility of the viewers to not take medical advice from a daytime talk show.  And there’s an argument to be made from that.  The problem is the fact that Dr. Oz hosts this show under the pretense that he’s a doctor giving medical advice.

Otherwise, as Oliver mocked, the show should be called Check This Sh*t Out From Some Guy Named Mehmet.

But that’s not the case.  Dr. Oz uses the fact that he’s a doctor to build a show based upon his “expertise” as a physician to often peddle products and advice that he himself admitted in front of Congress has no scientific backing.

And call me crazy, but I tend to believe that when a doctor is offering their advice on health-related products, I’d want it to be based on scientific evidence rather than hopes and dreams.

Though the issue with supplements is one that I’ve discussed with people before.  We’re always hearing about this “new miracle pill” or some kind of “lose weight quick shake” that promises to work wonders for losing weight – yet when you read reviews on many of these products most people say it did nothing for them.

And, just from the people I know who’ve taken some of these weight loss supplements, they tended to lose weight when they combined them with healthier eating and exercise.  So it’s essentially a placebo effect.  They take these “miracle” supplements right as they begin an exercise program and start eating healthier.  So naturally as they lose weight, they credit the supplement rather than the fact it’s really the exercise and healthier eating that’s causing them to lose weight.

It’s like my friend who’s a personal trainer told me, the only real way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume.

Several doctors I’ve spoken to over the years say vitamins and other supplements are essentially pointless for most people who aren’t deficient of specific vitamins or minerals.

Even a study by Oxford University scientists showed that taking vitamin supplements is essentially “useless.”

Yet, despite all this information being readily available, the supplement industry continues to grow.  It’s one of those phenomenons I just don’t get.

We spend billions of dollars on an industry where most scientific data out there is screaming at consumers, “This is a waste of money, it’s doing nothing for you!” – yet we still do it anyway.

And people like Dr. Oz, and other celebrities endorsing these supplements, aren’t helping.

But in the case of Dr. Oz it’s particularly unethical because he’s an actual doctor peddling “magical miracle beans” that he admits have absolutely no scientific data to support his inflammatory claims.

This is one of those issues that more people should be discussing, yet the only time you see it in the news is whenever one of these “miracle supplements” starts killing people.  And by then, the damage has already been done.

Watch Oliver’s segment below:


Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Eg Kbbs

    What is the average length of time Dr. Oz pushes one substance as a “miracle cure” before he drops it to push another substance as the miracle ?

  • gian keysTOOEASY flat mom

    if U want 2 lose weight exercize daily and stop eating starches ( rice/ bread/ potato/ flour/ corn / oats/ wheat ETC)
    if U want to gain weight learn what rightwing regressive white trash such as glenn beck/ rush Limbaugh/ sean Hannity/ eric bolling/ mike huck(ster)abee and karl rove eat ( and drink,,,,,,DRINK!!!)
    =====================================================
    and; why do rightwing women invariably suffer from micromastia? ( at least the TV ‘stars” do)

    • Chomper Lomper Tawee

      If you want to lose weight eat less “If you stay below your BMR, you create a calorie deficit and you lose weight”…

      • gian keysTOOEASY flat mom

        mine is better

  • Ron Speers

    Can I really lose 21kg and 12cm of belly fat as the two ads interspersed with your article claim? Never mind.

  • Matthew Reece

    Dr. Oz has received three Pigasus Awards from the James Randi Education Foundation for his promotion of energy therapies such as Reiki (2009), promotion of quack medical practices (2010), and continued promotion of quack medical practices, paranormal belief, and pseudoscience (2012). He is the only person to be awarded more than once.