The Doctor Oz Controversy and the Truth Behind Supplements and Weight Loss

Posted On Jun 25, 2014 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Doctor Oz suppliments controversy

If you haven't heard the news, the beloved (and equally hated) Dr. Oz was grilled in front of the Senate a few days ago for recommending controversial weight-loss supplements that had no solid research to back up their claims.

Before examining any of the supposed research that these unsubstantiated products attempt to base their claims of miracle weight loss on, let's first take a look at logic and economics.

If even one of these "metabolism game-changers" or "fat-blockers" was THE solution, why then do we have an obesity epidemic? Why are consumers convinced to buy the newest, latest, greatest pill of false promises? And why isn't one of the large pharmaceutical companies backing them up or buying them out? It's simple: None of them work (except when combined with regular exercise and diet, of course)!

If just a single weight-loss supplement lived up to it's false claims, there wouldn't be a new weight-loss product on the market every week, the supplement industry wouldn't be a multi-billion dollar industry and Dr. Oz might be out of a job (shoot, I might be too!).

People experiencing any level of success with weight-loss supplements all say the same thing: It worked for a little while, but they were also eating better and exercising. Imagine that.

I've tried a slew of weight-loss supplements myself from Xenadrine with ephedra (before it was taken off of the market after 80 people died from it), PGX, CLA, and a variety of fat burners that were mostly potent levels of caffeine. Let me tell you from first-hand experience: None of them worked, and the side effects were not worth it.

I could bore you with the supposed metabolic mechanism of popular supplements like HCG, Green Coffee Bean Extract, Mango Seed Fiber, White Kidney Bean Extract and Raspberry Ketones, just to name a few, but that would be a waste of time because most weight-loss research on supplements is funded by the supplement companies, they're short-term and/or they're done on animals.

While studies on animals are fine for preliminary research, they cannot be translated into effectiveness for humans due to the difference in our metabolic processes.

The Bottom Line

  1. Weight loss supplements are unregulated by the FDA, unlike food and medicine, and can be extremely unsafe.
  2. Save your money and invest in a personal trainer and/or dietitian and healthy foods.
  3. "All natural" is an undefined (and overused) term that does not mean safe. Snake venom, marijuana and tobacco are all natural, but that doesn't mean they're good for us.
  4. Don't let fancy terms and impressive photos fool you. What sounds good in theory and may work in a lab setting does not mean it works for real people in the real world. More and more supplement companies are being sued for photoshopping before and after pictures and for false advertising.

If you need a jumpstart or a little extra help, the things I recommend for aiding in safe weight loss are upping your fiber intake, even in the pill form (although whole foods are always best), and taking a natural appetite suppressant like a cup or two of green tea or coffee.

Weight loss takes hard work and dedication, eating more vegetables and less junk and moving your butt more. It's not something you can swallow in capsule form. But at least it doesn't come with the side effects of gas, bloating, explosive diarrhea, and growing hair in places you'd rather not.

If you've experienced long-term weight loss using a weight-loss supplement without making major lifestyle changes, I would love to hear about it!