Bill restricting access to weight management supplements passed by California Assembly

Assembly bill 1341 was previously held up by the state’s Appropriations Committee, delaying its passage until the Assembly reconvened in January 2022. Now that it has passed the Assembly, the bill will now go on to the California Senate.

The California Assembly has passed legislation by a vote of 44-12 that would place age restrictions on access to “dietary supplements for weight loss and over-the-counter diet pills.” In the legislations, dietary supplements for weight loss is defined as a class of dietary supplements sold or used to achieve weight loss, including by not limited to “thermogens, lipotropics, hormones, including hormone modulators and hormone mimetics, appetite suppressants, and ingredients deemed adulterated under Section 342 of Title 21 of the United States Code.”

Assembly bill 1341 (AB 1341) was previously held up by the state’s Appropriations Committee, delaying its passage until the Assembly reconvened in January 2022. Now that it has passed the Assembly, the bill will now go on to the California Senate. The bill’s sponsors argue that the legislation is necessary because of the association between weight loss products and eating disorders. Critics of the legislation argue that no such association exists. The Natural Products Association (NPA; Washington, D.C.), for example, has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine if any such association existed and found no adverse events or reporting associated with dietary supplements and eating disorders.

“We share the concern for teenagers with eating disorders, but banning ingredients found in vitamin water, fruit smoothies and other common products in the grocery store is an overreach,” said Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of NPA, in a press release.“More Americans are turning to natural products during the pandemic than ever before because they want to stay healthy.Obesity and poor nutrition are a significant problem in the U.S., and that is why we are focused on expanding access to nutritional supplements through government programs including WIC, SNAP, and through private health savings accounts.

NPA argues that the legislation not only imposes a costly burden on small businesses but may also lead to people under the age of 18 relying on shady online sellers as opposed to responsible brick-and-mortar retailers. The association’s grassroots campaign has generated over 4,000 letters and 3,000 calls to elected officials in California, and NPA’s director of government affairs, Kyle Turk, testified against the bill last year. Similar legislation is being considered in New York, New Jersey, Missouri, and Massachusetts.

“We need people to make their voices heard and tell elected officials to reject this misguided proposal,” said Fabricant. “The federal government has in place vast enforcement powers and a long track record of punishing criminals who break the law. We support vigorous enforcement of the law to protect consumers, but this proposal is unnecessary and will not only do nothing to protect public health.”