Dr Mehmet Oz Appointed to New Trump Panel on Fitness

Alicia Ault

May 08, 2018

Mehmet Oz, MD, is just one of the headline names on the list of appointees to the newly reorganized President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

President Donald J. Trump announced his selections for the panel — known for decades as the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports — on May 4. Each appointee will serve a 2-year term.

The council will be cochaired by former New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, professional beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor, and former professional football player Herschel Walker. Walker played for the New Jersey Generals, Trump's defunct US Football League team.

Dr Oz a Lightning Rod for Controversy

As a presidential candidate, Trump went on The Dr Oz Show, telling the host that he was in perfect health. Oz, director of the integrative medicine center at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York City, has for years attracted controversy and was even called to appear before a Senate panel in 2014 to face scrutiny over his claims about "miracle" weight-loss products.

In 2015, 10 physicians at Columbia called for his ouster, citing his positions against genetically modified foods and his promotion of what they called "quack treatments."

Oz "is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgments about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both," wrote the physicians. "Whatever the nature of his pathology, members of the public are being misled and endangered, which makes Dr Oz's presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable," they said.

Other Council Members

Many of those named to the panel have connections to Trump or have declared themselves passionate supporters.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reportedly congratulated Trump on his campaign. Professional golfer Natalie Gulbis Rodarmel spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention in support of Trump and has played golf with him.

Retired baseball player Johnny Damon appeared on Trump's reality TV show, Celebrity Apprentice, in 2015. Several other appointees have also appeared on the show or were involved with it, including actor Lou Ferrigno, best known for playing the Incredible Hulk, and Linda Yaccarino, who, as an employee of NBCUniversal, managed advertising sales for the last three seasons of the show, according to Adweek.

Nan Hayworth, a one-term congresswoman from New York, was also a staunch Trump supporter, according to Roll Call.

Another council appointee has longtime involvement in the nutritional supplements industry: Christopher Tisi, the CEO of the nutritional supplements company SlimFast, which is based in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Council's History

The council — which was begun by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 — had been without members since Trump took office, in part because critics claimed that the Obama administration had hijacked its mission to focus too much on nutrition. The word "nutrition" was added to the council's name by President Barack Obama in 2010.

Trump has indicated his preference for a focus on sports. In a proclamation declaring May as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Trump noted the many benefits of participating in sports, including a lower risk for obesity and other chronic conditions and higher graduation rates.

The executive order that established the revived council "emphasizes my Administration's commitment to encouraging youth sports participation throughout the United States, so that we can strengthen the next generation of American leaders and lift up our communities," said Trump in the proclamation.

This council, he said, "is charged with identifying ways to expand access to youth sports and ensuring American children from all ZIP codes can compete if they desire."

According to multiple media reports, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and Ivanka Trump were involved in discussions regarding the council.

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