Is this simply bad publicity for an industry that has no shortage of skeptics already—end of story? Is this one of those tide-turning, teachable moments where responsible companies draw a line in the sand? I think we should do more than just hope for the latter; we all need to do our part to help draw that line.
According to Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the recent Senate hearing “should serve as a wakeup call to companies that are exaggerating weight loss product claims, and engaging in deceptive advertising practices that prey on those consumers who are desperate to lose weight.”
I’ve written previously about conscious capitalism and the unique opportunity this industry has to improve public health in socially and environmentally sustainable ways while also turning a profit. Whether it’s through responsible sourcing of palm oil or minimizing waste in the production process, it makes good business sense to position your company as progressive and conscientious.
The impact of Dr. Oz’s over-reaching endorsements of “magic pills” artificially inflated market demand and put significant pressure on supply chains. That type of explosive growth isn’t sustainable and does more harm than good.
Yes, the optic of the Dr. Oz hearing was ugly. However, this is a prime opportunity to separate responsible, sustainable businesses from those that give this industry a bad name. Dr. Paul Clayton, chief scientific advisor at Gencor Pacific put it this way: “Any reputable manufacturer of raw materials or finished products in this sector should welcome a raising of the bar, which would improve standards overall, facilitate the shift toward evidence-based nutrition and help push opportunistic, hype-based operators out of business.”
At the end of the day, consumers are still out there looking for help managing their weight. It’s up to industry to offer real solutions instead of abusing the public trust.