Really, Dr. Oz?

I usually Tivo the Dr. Oz show, and have it on in the background while I’m doing something else. Usually his advice is accurate, but once in a while he comes out with something that makes me ask “Oh really?” I know the show is as much about entertainment as medicine, but that doesn’t excuse needlessly alarming people.

The other day he had a woman on who had some health issues, in addition to being overweight. At one point he tested her blood glucose. It was 100. He then told her that she was “borderline diabetic.”

No, Dr. Oz, 100 doesn’t mean borderline diabetic. 100 means normal.

I’m far from an expert on this – hell, I’m not even a layman – but it seems it depends which test is used.

I was told by my doctor that 100 – if you’ve been fasting – is borderline. Non-fasting, I guess, it’s probably not a problem.

This isn’t the case here, but Oz seems to have the same problem that Durk Pearson had back in the eighties, namely that he presents fact with theory and doesn’t tell you which is which. I’ve even seen him (Oz) sprinkle in a little bit of outright BS once in a while. Most of the time his advice is sound, but he should be a little more judicious in what he says.

The cutoff for diabetes is a fasting plasma glucose of 126. 100 to 125 is considered “impaired glucose tolerance” or “prediabetes”. (“Borderline diabetes” is sort of out as a term.)

So he’s right–she has a far better than average chance of progressing to diabetes, and she should do what she can to prevent this.

I sometimes catch Dr. Oz’s show at the gym while on the treadmill. The other day he claimed (if I have this right from the subtitles) that if you can’t reach your toes while sitting on the floor with your legs stretched straight out in front of you, it means your arteries are clogged. WTF??

That sounds weird, I know, but there was actually a recent study about this, to which he was probably referring. This piece summarizes the study, the gist of which is that if you’re flexible in general, the smooth muscle that lines your arteries is probably also flexible, rather than stiffened up.

I haven’t been able to touch my toes sitting down since I was a toddler - I guess I need to worry about my arteries.

How much significance can you really assign to a one-off value that is right on the upper end of the normal range? Especially when that is the not-quite-normal-but-still-OK range?

Fasting is the key element here, and I think that doesn’t get stressed enough. During the day, within an hour or two of eating, my experience has been that most people will test 100 or above. Heck, my non-diabetic husband once tested at 160 shortly after eating some huge carby dessert. Just having a blood glucose of 100 doesn’t mean you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic - as DoctorJ said, it’s having it that high while fasting that’s the problem.

I saw the Dr. Oz Diabetes show. I thought it was good in the sense that he presented the material simply enough that it might get through to the masses, but there was a LOT of misinformation. It really bugged me that early on, he mentioned that all carbohydrates can increase blood sugar, but then never mentioned it again and the rest of the show was all “sugar is bad! sugar is bad!” Yeah, sugar is bad, but if we’re talking about controlling blood glucose for diabetics, so is fruit, flour, pasta, some veggies, etc etc.

It also bugged me how the bulk of the show was about Type 2, but he just HAD to show the Type 1 in her hospital bed with all the complications. It seemed like a real scare tactic.

It used to be you were diagnosed with diabetes based on 1 glucose test but now they are switching to using the HgA1c test which is better because it measures long term sugar levels.