Daytime television’s self-promoting “You Doc,” Mehmet Oz, has a long history of scaremongering about high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which he continues in his syndicated column. The Great Oz blames HFCS for everything from aging arteries to obesity, and predicts everything from a better love life to a better figure for forgoing the sweetener.
But Oz’s latest so-called diet “miracle” is bunk. HFCS is nutritionally equivalent to table sugar, both being roughly equal parts glucose and fructose. When it comes to weight loss or gain, all calories consumed and all calories used count the same. More consumed than used equals weight gain; the opposite yields weight loss. If you replace HFCS with an equal amount of sugar, it won’t do you any good.
And Oz isn’t the best source when it comes to nutrition advice in general. A recent feature in Slate called out Oz’s television show for putting nutritional showmanship ahead of responsible science. To that end, Oz has shilled for unproven supplements, hosted a fad diet promoter who claims that wheat is “poisonous,” and hosted lab-coated animal-rights activist Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to grandstand on behalf of the save-the-cows diet.
Dr. Oz is also not immune from the temptation to spread a good old-fashioned food scare. In addition to HFCS scaremongering, Oz has been chastised by the Food and Drug Administration for attacking apple juice using bad science. He has attacked heart-healthy and affordable farm-raised salmon for containing chemicals, despite one of his website’s own contributors finding that “Studies fail to make a strong case that eating farm-raised fish poses a significant safety concern.”
Ultimately, obesity is a question of calories, whether from sugar, HFCS, or any other protein, carbohydrate, or lipid (fat). Demonizing HFCS won’t slim people down if they fall for slick marketing tactics that just replace the corn sweetener with nutritionally equivalent sugar. Dr. Oz should know better. If he only had a brain…