Legislation restricting minors from purchasing weight management products passes New York state legislature and awaits Governor’s decision

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The legislation, which has passed the state’s Assembly and Senate was introduced in April after Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed similar legislation in December 2022.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/ Kuzma

Photo © iStockphoto.com/ Kuzma

Once again, legislation that would restrict minors from purchasing dietary supplements marketed to support weight management and muscle building will be making its way to New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk. The legislation, which has passed the state’s Assembly and Senate was introduced in April after Hochul vetoed similar legislation in December 2022.

The Governor’s rationale for the veto was that the bill “require the Department of Health (DOH) to determine what products should be limited under this new law. DOH does not have the expertise necessary to analyze ingredients used in countless products, a role that is traditionally played by FDA…It would be unfair to expect retailers to determine which products they can and cannot sell over the counter to minors, particularly while facing the threat of civil penalties.”

The current legislation offers a more detailed definition of what constitutes a product for “weight loss or muscle building,” and offers the courts multiple factors to consider when making a determination. For example, the new bills name specific ingredients, such as “creatine, green tea extract, raspberry ketone, garcinia cambogia, green coffee bean extract,” while making an exception for protein products unless they include ingredients that if taken alone would constitute a product for “weight loss and muscle building.” The legislation also provides specific examples of the types of marketing these products may contain.

Advocates for the bill argue that restricting minors from purchasing these products without a doctor’s prescription protects them because “diet pills” are associated with an increased risk of developing eating disorders. Industry stakeholders strongly disagree with this assertion, insisting that there is no evidence demonstrating a causal relationship between eating disorders and dietary supplements. A recent review of science did not find a causal relationship between consumption of dietary supplements in minors and eating disorders, and pointed out flaws in the research used to justify such claims.

“Childhood obesity affects 1 in 5 children in this country, yet we don’t kid ourselves into thinking that age-restricting junk food and sodas would put an end to that epidemic,” said Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, D.C.) in a press release following the bill’s passage in the New York General Assembly. “We hope the Governor will again recognize that body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and other mental health issues are complex problems that are not solved by the distraction of ‘quick-fix’ tactics like this, which only offer sufferers and their families false hope. We will continue to advocate for more scientifically based solutions that get at the root cause of youth eating disorders, while ensuring that families have the ability to purchase the trusted products that support healthy lifestyles.”

“Unfortunately, the NY state assembly and senate has once again chosen to ignore the facts in this matter and wrongfully implicate supplements. As we have been pointing out for years in testimony, testimony that led to a similar bill being vetoed prior by the governor, there is no data point, no adverse events at FDA that provide any associational link on dietary supplements to eating disorders,” said Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of the Natural Product Association, in a statement. “After getting the last bill vetoed, now these lawmakers have doubled down in an even worse manner by unscientifically targeting ingredients like creatine, one on the most well studied and researched chemicals on the planet, to limit all New Yorkers choices when it comes to self-care with natural products. Watching governments go from ‘trust the science’ to completely ignoring the science is why people have lost faith in those institutions. People want a say in maintaining their health and wellness. This is NOT over, similar to the last bill that passed to restrict supplements, we still have a window, albeit a smaller one to have our voices heard.

On June 6, NPA sent a letter to Hochul formally requesting that the governor veto the legislation.

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