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'Dr. Oz' is wrong two-thirds of the time, study says

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Posted at 4:23 PM, Dec 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-30 15:31:32-05

Do you trust what you hear from a TV doc?

A fact check by University of Alberta doctors found that TV medical shows like "Dr. Oz" give good advice half the time – at best.

"Some patients come in and say 'I heard on Dr. Oz yesterday that we should all be doing this.' And then we're left scrambling in our office to try to find answers," said family medicine physician Christina Korownyk, in a press release. "It got us reflecting, what's being said there?”

To find out, Korownyk and other doctors recorded and fact-checked more than 900 medical recommendations from 40 episodes of "Dr. Oz" and "The Doctors" from January to April 2013. Each show draws about 3 million viewers a day.

"The Doctor Oz Show" fared the worst. Its medical recommendations were supported by evidence just one-third of the time. "The Doctors" were right about half the time.

More than 90 percent of the time, the shows failed to disclose the potential harms of their recommendations. They often didn’t state the specific benefits, either. Conflicts of interest were also rarely mentioned. 

Dr. Oz himself was excoriated by Congress in June for questionable weight loss claims made on his show. 

Bottom line: be skeptical and talk to your doctor in person.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on twitter at @GavinStern.