Dr. Oz cooks with daughter Daphne on the delicious talk show "The Chew." Credit: Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images
Dr. Oz defended his promotion of weight-loss supplements such as green tea extract before a Senate panel.
"I actually do personally believe in the items that I talk about on the show,” said Oz, a Columbia University professor.
The host of "The Dr. Oz Show" says the products he endorsed gave people hope to keep trying to lose weight. With the rate of overweight or obese Americans nearing 70 percent, Oz said the hottest topic of conversation on his website is weight loss.
He acknowledged that the products often don't have "the scientific muster" to back up their claims, but that he gives his audience the same advice he gives his own family. "I have given my family these products.”
Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, the chairwoman of the Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, said Oz had a role in perpetuating weight-loss fraud through his show.
"When you call a product a miracle, and it's something you can buy and it's something that gives people false hope," she said, adding that Oz's promotion tended to boost sales and prompted scam artists to sell questionable products using deceptive ads.
Part of the hearing focused on green coffee extract, a dietary supplement Oz touted in 2012 as a "miracle." The show heightened interest in the product, and Oz testified he devoted much of a second show to telling viewers how his name was being used unscrupulously to sell it.
Mary Koelbel Engle, an FTC official, testified that the agency filed suit over the supplement, charging deceptive claims and promotion.
A 2011 FTC survey of consumer fraud showed more consumers were victims of bogus weight-loss products than any other frauds covered by the survey, she said.
Americans were forecast to spend $2.4 billion on weight-loss services last year, and the figure was expected to rise to $2.7 billion in 2018, she said.