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Good Media Neighbor: Dr. Oz

November 9, 2010
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One of my favorite current “Good Media Neighbors” is Dr. Mehmet Oz, of The Dr. Oz show. The show has been a major syndicated hit ever since it kicked off last year, and it shows no signs of losing popularity. People (mostly women, it seems) love Dr. Oz’s friendly, no-nonsense approach to health, and his seemingly genuine desire to see everyone in America lead healthier, happier lives.

Dr. Oz kicked off this season back in September with his own colonoscopy – nothing new these days with anchors like Katie Couric and Harry Smith having already aired their procedures. But for Oz, it went beyond a routine screening when his gastroenterologist found and removed a pre-cancerous polyp. Oz is a guy who practices what he preaches, eating right and exercising, and he has no family history of colon cancer, so it came somewhat as a shock to him. He admitted to viewers that he thought they would film the procedure, do a nice segment on why it’s important to get screened for what is often a silent killer, and move on. Dr. Oz’s experience appeared to have further strengthened his resolve to convince people of early screenings, as well as eating the right foods and being more active.

This season Dr. Oz is the nation’s cheerleader for weight loss, launching his “Just 10” challenge, and encouraging everyone to lose 10 pounds. Dr. Oz is always about what’s doable for people, so instead of haranguing viewers to get down to their goal weights – for some a herculean task – he’s letting them know that by losing just 10 pounds, they will reduce their risks for deadly diseases and improve their daily quality of life.

Occasionally the show features those yucky cadaver internal organs Dr. Oz so famously made Oprah handle on her show, and those now infamous purple surgical gloves squeamish audience members don to handle the organs as part of an object lesson about bad health habits. But the show’s producers have come up with lots of positive, creative props to help Dr. Oz demonstrate principles, like a recent segment with a mini-water wheel and pitchers of water to show how a lack of oxygen in the body results in a lack of energy.

The show gets cheesy at times, like when Dr. Oz plays game show host and quizzes participating audience members on health questions, but overall it does a good job of combining important health information with just the right amount of day time talk show entertainment.

In a sea of sometimes negative daytime programming – think endless array of bickering adversaries on court shows and Jerry Springeresque programs – Dr. Oz is an island of civility and positive news about how to live a healthy life. Here’s hoping The Dr. Oz show has a nice long TV lifespan.

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