Some famous faces—and questionable reputations—are joining President Donald Trump’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition.
On Friday afternoon, Trump announced that he plans to appoint New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Dr. Mehmet Oz to his council. Belichick is a known Trump supporter, and Dr. Oz is most famous for his daytime talk show, The Dr. Oz Show.
Belichick, Oz, and 18 others—including an NBC executive, the chief executive officer of SlimFast, and a Boys & Girls Clubs of America executive—will be appointed to the president’s council “for a term of two years,” according to a White House release.
Oz, an Ivy League-educated cardiac surgeon, rose to fame after being a frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, for whom he dispensed medical advice. He also penned the book You: The Owner’s Manual, along with various other spin-off books.
But the content of his Emmy-winning talk show has been questioned by medical professionals. Researchers found that “nearly 4 in 10 of the assertions made on the hit show appear to be made on the basis of no evidence at all,” according to The Los Angeles Times. Of the evidence that was based on medical fact, 32 percent was deemed to be “general medical advice,” while 25 percent focused on diet, and 18 percent focused on weight loss.
In 2015, 10 physicians called for Columbia University to boot Oz from his role as a “senior administrative position in the Department of Surgery” at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, according to NBC News.
“Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgements about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both,” the group of doctors wrote in their letter to the university. “Whatever the nature of his pathology, members of the public are being misled and endangered, which makes Dr. Oz’s presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable.”
Dr. Oz responded to his critics, insisting that The Dr. Oz Show was “not a medical show” in a 2015 interview with NBC News. He stated that the purpose of his show is “not to talk about medicine,” while admitting “there are segments that I made that I wish I could take back.” Despite the letter, Dr. Oz remains employed at Columbia.
Congress has also taken aim at the miraculous weight-loss solutions Dr. Oz has prominently featured on his show. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee invited Oz to testify “on the danger of over-the-counter diet pills,” but grilled him on the “miracle” methods and products he’s hawked, The Washington Post reported.
“People want to believe you can take an itty-bitty pill to push fat out of your body,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said to Oz during the hearing. “The scientific community is almost monolithically against you.”
Green coffee bean extract was also touted by Oz as the next big breakthrough in weight loss. Oz went on television to laud the treatment, claiming the pill would make people lose up to “a pound a week.”
Too good to be true? Yes. The Federal Trade Commission won a $3.5 million settlement against the extract manufacturer in 2014, and a 2012 Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy journal study promoting its health benefits was retracted. The FTC called the study “so hopelessly flawed that no reliable conclusions could be drawn from it.”
In response to his planned appointment to the president’s council, Dr. Oz wrote on Twitter Friday that, “serving on @FitnessGov offers a platform to amplify the best practices shown to work across our school systems.”
“I’ve been supporting children’s health programs with @HealthCorps and appreciate the need to improve lifestyle opportunities for our youth,” he said.