SBM: “Dr. Oz and Green Coffee Beans – More Weight Loss Pseudoscience”
Normally, I don’t look forward to Mondays, but today is an exception… we hosted 5 of our kids’ friends from the Tri-Cities for the weekend. Nothing like having 7 teenagers (ok, 6 teenagers – Number One Son is actually 22) around the house, to feed, transport, and tip-toe around in the morning. A good time, however, was had by all – even the chauffeur (yours truly – I rented a Dodge minivan for the occasion).
At any rate, while I was prepping for the visit, I was amused to discover this post on Dr. Oz’s promotion of green coffee bean extract by pharmacist Scott Gavura at Science-Based Medicine. As you might already know, Paul (with a bit of help from moi) wrote about this shortly after seeing the show (here and here). Not all the points that I discussed with Paul made it into his published review, so I was delighted to see Gavura’s take on them. I didn’t have the time to post about it last week, but I do now!
Short version: Dr. Oz has chosen to sensationalize the results of a small study with serious methodological flaws.
A taste of the longer version:
…So when the sign in front of my local pharmacy started advertising “Green coffee beans – as seen on Dr. Oz”, I tracked down the clip in question. The last time I saw Dr. Oz in action when when he had SBM’s own Steven Novella as a guest, where there was actually a exchange (albeit brief) about the scientific evidence for alternative medicine. Replace Dr. Novella with a naturopath, and you get this:
Yes, Oz did use the terms “magic”, “staggering”, “unprecedented”, “cure” and “miracle pill”. And clearly the naturopath, Lindsay Duncan, is enamored with this product. But Dr. Oz is a health professional – he’s the Vice-Chair of the Department of Surgery at Columbia University. He’d be a bit skeptical, right? This exchange at the end, made me shake my head – Dr. Oz really has crossed the woobicon:
“Now I always pride myself at having the smartest TV audience out there. So I’m hoping that some of you are skeptical about this. I was certainly skeptical about it. Am I speaking for a couple of you, anyway? It does seem a little too good to be true.”
So what did Dr. Oz do – issue cautions about obesity panaceas? No. He created some anecdotes:
“So I gave the supplements to two viewers 5 days ago. I gave all the information I could find on this product to our medical unit, they did diligent work, but we still wanted to see what would happen in real life.”
One viewer dropped 2 pounds in 5 days. The other viewer lost 6 pounds in 5 days. Convincing weight loss? It was persuasive to Dr. Oz.
So now I’m going to do what Dr. Oz, the producers of the show, and the naturopath Lindsay Duncan didn’t do — actually review the evidence.
It’s great stuff… check it out.