Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, the chairwoman of the
Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, said Oz had a role in
perpetuating weight-loss fraud through his show.
“I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s
not true,” McCaskill said at the hearing, a follow-up to a Federal
Trade Commission crackdown in January on fraudulent diet products.
She said Oz's promotion tended to boost sales and prompted scam
artists to sell questionable products using deceptive ads.
"When you call a product a miracle, and it's something you can buy
and it's something that gives people false hope, I just don't
understand why you need to go there," McCaskill said.
Oz, the host of "The Dr. Oz Show," said the products gave people
hope to keep trying to lose weight. Nearly 70 percent of Americans
are overweight or obese, and he said the No. 1 topic asked about on
his website was weight loss.
"I actually do personally believe in the items that I talk about on
the show,” said Oz, a Columbia University professor.
“I recognize that oftentimes they don’t have the scientific muster
to present as fact. I would give my audience the advice I give my
family all the time, and I have given my family these products.”
Part of the hearing focused on green coffee extract, a dietary
supplement Oz touted in 2012 as a "miracle." The show heightened
interest in the product, and Oz testified he devoted much of a
second show to telling viewers how his name was being used
unscrupulously to sell it.
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Mary Koelbel Engle, an FTC official, testified that the agency filed
suit over the supplement, charging deceptive claims and promotion.
A 2011 FTC survey of consumer fraud showed more consumers were
victims of bogus weight-loss products than any other frauds covered
by the survey, she said.
Americans were forecast to spend $2.4 billion on weight-loss
services last year, and the figure was expected to rise to $2.7
billion in 2018, she said.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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