Daytime television’s shamelessly self-promoting “You Doc,” Mehmet Oz, continued his tradition of providing bad dietary advice in his most recent newspaper column. He claims that eating sugar and fat “trigger withdrawal symptoms when you stop eating them.”
This is utter hokum. An examination and commentary by researchers from Cambridge University found “no conclusive evidence of a human withdrawal syndrome for foods.” Most claims of “food withdrawal” are based on subtle changes in brain chemistry, but that is a misappropriation of the concept. Diners waiting for their hamburgers don’t get “the shakes,” “coke bugs,” or stick up the drive-thru to get their fix. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that clinical “criteria for substance dependence translate poorly to food-related behaviors.”
We suppose such shoddy advice should be expected from a guy whose show runs alongside Rikki Lake, Jeff Probst, and the People’s Court. A recent article in Slate pointed out that Oz has a habit of advocating unproven “miracle” weight loss speculations. The article focuses on shameless and unsubstantiated advocacy for nutritional supplements, but the sentiment equally applies to some of Oz’s bolder claims about diet. For example, he has written that high fructose corn syrup—a sweetener nutritionally equivalent to sugar—is uniquely bad for people. Ditto for his hosting diet-book shill William Davis, who laughably claims that wheat is “poisonous.” Oh, and he’s also hosted ex-PETA Foundation president Neal Barnard of the 90-percent-doctor-free Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to promote the animal-rights diet. Whether it’s green coffee bean extract or garcina extract, it seems every week Oz has found a new “holy grail” of nutrition (or shipment of snake oil, depending on your perspective).
Ultimately, what makes good science does not necessarily make good television. Slate quoted one of Oz’s P.R. representatives saying, “An adjective like ‘miracle’ is used as an editorial device to describe anecdotal results, as exemplified by the guests on our show. Our audience are not scientists, and the show needs to be more lively than a dry scientific discussion.” Translation: We put showmanship ahead of medical credibility.
There are no real-world weight-loss miracles, so leave the fad diets and crank pills behind and follow the plan in the “World’s Shortest Diet Book.” It’s the only one that really works.