Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


Dr Oz gets schooled and says: #sorrynotsorry


I’m sure that the whole Dr-Oz-goes-to-the-senate-and-gets-scolded thing is going to be all over all of the blogs for at least the next few days. Despite this, I still feel the need to throw my voice into the fray. I’ve ranted about Dr Oz and his ridiculous supplement (and dietary) proclamations many a time (too many for me to be bothered to even give you a link right now, feel free to search my blog for my scorn). It’s not just weight loss that’s a problem. It’s pretty much every dietary and supplement recommendation that he’s made. Eat a papaya every day? Come on, are we made of money (perhaps Dr Oz should read yesterdays post)? And what happened to variety is the spice of life. Any dietitian worthy of the “RD” after their name will tell you that variety is a key component of a healthy diet.

But that’s all history now, right? Dr Oz, the great and powerful Oz, has (gasp!) apologised for his role in the popularization of useless weight loss supplements. Does this really sound like the words of someone who is truly sorry: “For years I felt that because I did not sell any products that I could be enthusiastic in my coverage and I believe the research surrounding the products I cover has value.”? What I see here is Oz saying that by not putting his name on any product labels that he thought it was okay to tout each and every one of them as the next great MIRACLE weight loss cure on his show. Even more importantly, I see that Oz still believes in the “research” conducted on the products he promotes. Never mind that most of them have little to no scientific research to support their use as weight loss supplements. Never mind that those that do have research invariably have weak biased research. Never mind that he conducted his own “research” into the efficacy of green coffee bean extract using audience members.

Do I think that we’ll see any meaningful change as a result of this hearing? I doubt it. Dr Oz doesn’t believe that he’s done anything sincerely wrong and what he does is popular. Horrifyingly popular. Just a taste of some of the comments on his facebook “apology”:

Dr.Oz, you are amazing. You get people excited about living healthier and happier lives! You show is interesting, lively and is very enjoyable as well as more importantly very informative to watch. Thank you!!!

You have done far more good in your career than any other public medical professional, helping people take responsibility for their health and promoting preventive care and wellness. Don’t listen to the politicians, who are the MOST self-serving of our population and sell out every day to lobbying money. You owe no apologies.

You are a good doctor, and you have done nothing wrong. I am glad you stood up for what is right. Keep on doing what you do best Dr. Oz…
They go on and on in that vein. People want miracle cures. They don’t want to hear that losing weight (and keeping it off) is hard work. That’s why Dr Oz has 4.6 million likes on FB and a syndicated television show and dietitians (like yours truly) are tapping away writing unpaid blogs about nutrition in their spare time. As long as Dr Oz is being given a platform, as long as the network is getting the ratings, and as long as the public are swallowing every pill he proffers he is going to keep dishing them out.



Beware of ads posing as articles


I was recently told about this article praising green coffee bean extract for its weight loss properties. Apparently a woman in Toronto took it and, without making any additional lifestyle change, lost 29 pounds in four weeks!

As soon as I started reading the article I knew it was an advertisement. At a glance, it appears to be a legitimate news article. The header reads “Consumer Lifestyles”. However, the writing style is that of an ad, not of journalism. If you click on any of the links (i.e. beauty, health, nutrition, about, contact) at the top of the page, they all direct you to the home page for the weight loss supplement brand being advertised in the “article”.

There is no good science to date to support the use of green coffee bean extract for weight loss. Check out Science Based Pharmacy for the facts.

The fictional woman in the advertisement bemoans that weight loss clinics and diet programs were too expensive. You know what’s an even less expensive method of weight loss than a bottle of (more than likely) useless pills? A healthy diet and regular exercise.

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SENSA or sensibility

A friend alerted me to a weight loss product recently. He saw a commercial for it and initially thought that it was a joke. Unfortunately, it’s no joke, although the likelihood of its effectiveness is.

This product,SENSA, allegedly works with your olfactory and taste receptors to hasten your satiety when eating. How it does this without altering the taste or odour of your food (as they claim) is a mystery to me. After a little bit of wandering around the product website I was able to find the ingredient list: “Maltodextrin (Derived from Corn from the USA), Tricalcium Phosphate, Silica, Natural and Artificial Flavors. SENSA® also contains Soy and Milk ingredients. SENSA® is sodium-free, sugar-free, calorie free, and there are no stimulants, drugs or MSG.”

Maltodextrin, is a partially hydrolized starch. As far as I’m aware, there is no evidence that it’s useful in weight loss. In fact, many body builders use it after a workout to encourage weight gain. Tricalcium Phosphate is a calcium salt. Again, there is no evidence that it’s useful in weight loss. I find the presence of silica rather off-putting. That’s what’s in those little freshness packets in your new sneaker or purse that are clearly stamped “DO NOT EAT”. Prolonged use of silica supplements may result in deficiency in essential vitamins (1). I’m also not convinced that it’s actually useful in weight loss. I certainly couldn’t find any reasonable evidence. As none of the ingredients alone have any discernable weight loss properties, I sincerely doubt that there is any synergistic effect making this product an effective weight loss tool.

I know that many people are engaged in lifelong struggles with their weight. I also know that many people likely made New Years resolutions to lose weight. Products such as this may be appealing because they promise that you can continue to eat all the foods you love, you just have to sprinkle them with magical powder. Yes, you can continue to enjoy the foods you love and lose weight but you may not be able to enjoy as much of them as frequently as you would like if your favourite foods are potato chips and cookies rather than broccoli and celery. The hard truth is: weight loss and weight maintenance are work. Even if this powder does work (which I’m extremely dubious about) it’s not a sustainable change. Would you be prepared to spend money (and it’s not cheap: one month of SENSA is $60) on powder to add to every food you eat for the rest of your life? In order to see sustainable weight loss you need to make sustainable changes.