Selling through science (aka commercial hype)

Science communication. Pills, nutritional supplements

So, we’ve looked at hype from a variety of sources (including scientists, journals and media), but what about those huge proponents of big promises – the commercial sector?

The nutritional supplement industry in the USA, which made $11.5 billion in sales in 2012, is a easy example to make. In May 2014, the American Federal Trade Commission (the FTC) charged Green Coffee Bean sellers for deceiving customers with weight loss claims. We’ve all heard this type of this before – miraculous beans (or pills or powders) that can cause weight loss with little extra effort made.

In the process of charging the Green Coffee Bean sellers, the FTC brought popular talk show host Dr. Oz in for questioning. Dr. Oz (or, “America’s Doctor”) is cardiothoracic surgeon, author, and television personality. He uses his talk show to talk medicine and health to his audience.

Dr. Oz and the nutritional supplement industry use science to sell their products. In the case of Green Coffee Beans, Dr. Oz used his reputation to present the product as a miracle cure, though he later acknowledged that beans didn’t have enough evidence to pass scientific muster. In fact, there is some concern that nutritional supplements on market right now could pose health risks.

Here’s a recap of the events as they unfolded from This Week Tonight.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: