Timothy Caulfield, an expert on health law and science policy, is admittedly a pop culture fan, but his new book “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?” rails against celebrity culture and its effect on our lives.
“Pop culture confuses and distorts health, lifestyle and happiness,” Caulfield, a professor at the University of Alberta told FoxNews.com.
Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jenny McCarthy have offered health advice on topics like juice cleanses and vaccines, while making claims that have raised eyebrows in the medical community. For example, Paltrow recently recommended that women steam their vaginas, a practice that Dr. Manny Alvarez, a gynecologist, said doesn’t have any real health benefits and could even be risky. Alvarez is the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, and senior managing editor at FoxNews.com.
More controversially, Jenny McCarthy was one of many celebrities who infamously propagated the now-debunked claim that vaccines are linked to autism in children.
Caulfield said that many of the multi-billion dollar crazes such as gluten-free diets, detoxing and organic juicing wouldn’t exist without celebrity endorsements. He maintains that stars have a huge influence on our lives, but he doesn’t place the blame solely on their shoulders. This is a “systemic problem” that we all take part in and are a victim of, he said.
“We are hardwired to have desires to be famous and be exploited by this world,” Caulfield said, adding that celebrities have influence over us because we allow them to.
Caulfield willingly allowed himself to be controlled by stars to research his book. He tried the different cleanses and detoxes, diets and even auditioned for “American Idol” to test out the sage wisdom of celebrities that say if you try hard enough and believe you can make it, you will.
When FoxNews.com asked Caulfield if his experimentation worked he answered with an emphatic laugh and “no!”
What their advice boils down to, he said, is essentially crash dieting and wishful thinking. Caulfield explained that these fad diets don’t work, and that the true keys to healthy living – “don’t smoke, exercise with vigor, eat real food and love somebody” -- are not sexy enough to put in magazines.
With regards to our culture and lifestyle, Caulfield’s book says that our obsession with upward mobility through fame is misguided. As part of his experimentation, in addition to auditioning for “Idol,” Caulfield also tried modelling. While speaking with fellow hopefuls he noticed that many participants wanted money for the family and to pull themselves out of a lower-to-middle class life. Caulfield ventures that instead of paying thousands for modeling auditions and trying out for reality show competitions you can get a better life in ways that don’t involve fame.
Claufield explained that dreams of fame distract us from real chances to move up the ladder of success. He advises those looking to better themselves should opt out of spending money to chase fame, and instead put it toward education.
Caulfield said he not a “dream killer” as his son jokingly calls him, but he hopes that his message is liberating for others who have been misguided by celebrity advice.
“Relax, you don’t have to be a rock star,” he said.
A rep for Paltrow declined to comment on the book to FoxNews.com.