Despite what you’ve heard from Dr. Oz, there is no miracle pill will make you lose weight. Oprah’s favorite doctor recently came under fire from Congress for exactly that reason—pushing supplements and pills that aren’t supported by good evidence. That’s a dangerous kind of pandering that John Oliver took issue with on the latest episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight.
A much better way to pander to an audience without offering them dangerous medical advice is to use a vindictive George R. R. Martin, a tap-dancing Steve Buscemi, and the Black and Gold marching elite. Check it out below:
If you follow just what you hear from pop doctors like Mehmet Oz, it’d be easy to think that multi-vitamins and supplements are huge pillars supporting modern health. But, as Oliver points out, the supplement industry is hardly regulated at all, which allows marketers to side step any scientific evidence and sell directly to the health-conscious consumer. That wouldn’t be such a problem if the evidence wasn’t wholly against popular health supplements, but it is.
The stark truth is that almost all health supplements are either ineffective or slightly harmful. According to a summary in Smithsonian Magazine, “The vast majority of vitamins and mineral supplements are simply not worth taking.” The article echoes the scientific papers that show multi-vitamins do not reduce incidences of cancer or heart disease, vitamin C does nothing to alleviate the common cold (yes, that means EmergenC just makes your pee more expensive), and that the entire multi-vitamin craze is based around the delusional ideals of a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.
The odd paradox of vitamin supplementation, at least in the US, is that the people who need vitamins the least are in fact the people taking them the most. Malnourished children, pregnant women—these groups really do need occasional vitamins beyond what they would get from their diet. But the average person eating an average diet has no need for 900% of their daily B12 requirement in a pill.
It’s not all bunk though. There are some supplements that have been shown to work, but it’s a mixed bag of moderate results. Nothing will melt your fat the way Dr. Oz claims, and there certainly is no miracle cure for obesity, diabetes, or cancer. Good health, like the human body, is much more complicated than that.
Dr. Oz is probably the most recognizable doctor in the world and is trusted by millions. Anyone with that exposure offering shortcuts to perfect health is downright dangerous, and the reason Dr. Oz got “grilled” by Congress in the first place. Unproven supplements aren’t the only oddity in Oz’s many shows either–Oz has a track record of promoting unsupported therapies like electric acupuncture and homeopathy. Maybe Oliver is right about Dr. Oz: when you have to put on almost 900 shows about human health, eventually you’ll run out of completely legitimate things to say, and the temptation to use “flowery language” and make dubious claims is too great.
Doctors should not pander at all, but if they have to, at least use George R. R. Martin.