The Doctors

Causing Harm Since: 2010.

The Doctors is a daytime television show that hopes viewers will tune in for “critical information to make informed and intelligent health care decisions.” In reality, the show has significantly strayed from its educational purpose — but flashy episodes on health fads and scares are how ratings records get made in show biz.

The hosts — Dr. Travis Stork (of The Bachelor fame), Dr. Lisa Masterson, Dr. Andrew Ordon, and Dr. James Sears — discuss everything from “could a new pill replace exercise?” and “do blondes really have more fun?” to “the surprising health benefits of bathing in beer” and “ a fast fix for losing five pounds.”

Those topics don’t exactly signal that the show takes your health seriously, but what else would you expect from celebrity doctors who brag about their close ties to Dr. Phil? The show “does for health care what Dr. Phil has done for psychology” they boast, and, in fact, “ is brought to you by the same team behind Dr. Phil, as well as his own son, Jay McGraw.”

So when they try to tackle important issues like seafood nutrition, they predictably dish out faulty advice and confuse viewers.

They’ve warned that some fish “have higher levels of mercury” and shouldn’t be eaten more than a “few times a month” because you may experience “bizarre neurological symptoms.” They’ve cautioned, “studies show that eating fish may not be as healthy as you think.” They’ve claimed, “the number one source [of mercury in seafood] is from burning fossil fuels.” They’ve declared, “[mercury poisoning] happens.”

Clearly, The Doctors’ hosts take no care to fact check their recommendations with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, nuance their advice for the general population and pregnant women and children, and refer to hundreds of peer-reviewed studies proving that the omega-3 fatty acids found in a variety of seafood protect adults from heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s and leads to optimal neurological, cognitive and behavioral development in babies.

A strong foundation of research affirms: “messaging regarding seafood consumption risks requires a targeted strategy that does not discount the benefit” because risk-heavy “messaging reduces fish consumption in general, in both the target and nontarget populations, resulting in an overall reduction in the potential health benefits derived from EPA + DHA. “

In other words, when The Doctors broadcasts inaccurate and fear-based guidance, it is only contributing to the major problem of seafood deficiency in the American diet and steering people away from reaping the health benefits of fish.

Ultimately the Doctors “demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt…that having physicians involved in the making of a show about medicine and medical controversies is no guarantee that the resulting show will be science-based.” A doctor doesn’t need to tell you to turn off The Doctors if you want to protect your health; common sense does.

Instances of Harm:

December 5, 2012

July 1, 2010

September 22, 2010

September 29, 2010