President Donald Trump has announced the members of the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, including some big names. Unfortunately, what those names are associated with is not generally evidence-based medicine.
The three incoming co-chairs nominated to the council, which was first established in 1956, are retired baseball, beach volleyball, and football stars. Since the role of the council is “To expand and encourage youth sports participation, and to promote the overall physical fitness, health, and nutrition of all Americans,” the sports and fitness angles look covered.
As we've reported before assessments by independent experts of the advice Oz gives found half of it lacking in evidence or outright wrong. Maybe he’ll give Trump the other half.
Unlike some of Trump’s appointments to science-related positions, Oz has relevant qualifications, having had a career as a cardiothoracic surgeon and researcher. On the other hand, in recent years he has prompted one evidence-free “cure” after another, from diet supplements that don’t work to homeopathy. Most disastrously of all, Oz has used his vast TV platform to give prominence to anti-vaxxers, contributing to the outbreaks of diseases like measles.
It’s not just us saying this either. The Federal Trade Commission shredded the credibility of a diet program Oz promoted, one driven by someone who illegally presented himself as a doctor, without bothering to do the hard years of earning a medical degree. Or you could always look at the admission of the man himself, who admitted to a Senate Committee that he promotes products that “don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.” Oz said he did this to give his audience hope. The fact that he gets a cut from many of these products couldn’t possibly be an influencing factor. Let's just stress this factor: he admitted that much of what he says is not based on evidence or facts.
Given Trump’s general enthusiasm for anyone he sees on TV, this isn’t all that surprising. Moreover, given his past statements on health matters, there is no reason to think Trump is any more supportive of medical science than he is of climatology or ecology. Oz also did Trump a huge favor during the election campaign by lending credibility to an endorsement of Trump’s health produced by Dr Harold Bornstein, who now admits it was dictated by Trump.
As the respected astronomy writer Phil Plait put it: