A few months ago I wrote a piece on how I had transitioned from a Dr Oz fan to an outspoken opponent of the popular television host in the span of a little more then a year or 2. This transition was not really fuelled by any outside influences, but more on account to waning interest and (mostly) identification of seemingly obvious contradictions of advice given on the show. One contradiction was with sugar, another with fast food. To read my other Oz entry, click the link below.
I had never really tested or investigated the validity of any of the medical advice nor the endorsements of the show (I had never really utilized any to begin with, so The thought never occurred to me). But CBCs marketplace and senator Catskill did a good job of investigating some of those.
Another thing that was in my last entry, was me leaving out any flack aimed at the Dr Phil spinoff “The Doctors”, another prime time medical show that is often run back to back with the Dr Oz show. In fact, I had mostly good things to say about the show, being that I didn’t really have any reason to form a negative opinion at that time. In comparison to Dr Oz, who once did a whole segment on “misleading packaging” of mineral water energy drinks after being fooled by one and losing sleep (you didn’t read the label?!) and seemed to have an angry/panicky show at least twice a week, the The Doctors seemed to be quite measured and careful with their advice. Reporting threats and trends, but not out to create anger or panic in the process.
As it turns out, The Doctors has been shown to be almost as guilty in terms of dealing in misinformation as The Dr Oz Show.
After viewing a random selection of 40 episodes of the worlds most popular syndicated medical talk shows (The Dr Oz Show, The Doctors), researchers at the British Medical Journal identified 479 (Dr Oz) and 445 (The Doctors) bits of medical “wisdom” from each show. Upon researching the claims against the best scientific data available, the researchers found that around half of the claims were either baseless or flat out contradictory to the best available scientific data. Most of the material from Dr Oz was dietary advice, with The Doctors instead pushing people to consult their doctor. And though health benefits of products and claims were played up by both shows, neither really covered potential risks of claims or products endorsed (nor conflicts of interest).
So, long story short, be weary of televised medical advice. These television personalities work on a basis of public trust, and it seems that they are not afraid to use that trust to their own advantage.
Given the sampling of the the shows is random (and non-inclusive of any episodes containing obviously false claims) and the discovery that only a third to half of all claims are in fact true, I would recommend to just stop watching these shows altogether.
Often times these shows will point out the fact that these shows are for “entertainment” purposes, when anyone calls out their bullshit legally. They can not be sued, because they fall into the category of “entertainment”. This is also how Dr Phil can practice psychiatry without any formal license (his show is an entertainment venue, nothing more).
The problem is, most of the casual viewers do not know this. All they see is a show or a panel of real doctors, and as such, they assume the same bond trust applies as it would with a real doctor. But this is not true. And its about time to get this message out there.
More information on the study below.