New bill in California would restrict the sale of weight management products

New state legislation introduced in California could prohibit the sale of weight management dietary supplements to consumers under the age of 18.

New state legislation introduced in California could prohibit the sale of weight management dietary supplements to consumers under the age of 18. The proposed legislation defines “dietary supplements for weight loss” as “a class of dietary supplements sold for or used with the intent to achieve weight loss that are lawfully sold, transferred, or furnished over the counter, with or without a prescription, under the regulation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. Sec. 301 et seq.), and regulations adopted thereunder.” These may include, but are 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.”

A violation of the law’s provisions would make retail establishments subject to a civil penalty of no more than $1,000, and subject to the Unfair Practices Act. Similar laws have been proposed in other states, including Massachusetts, though none have passed. The Natural Products Associations (NPA; Washington, D.C.) has launched a grassroots campaign to counter the proposal.

“The notion that this is even a priority during a pandemic and while California is facing its largest budget deficit in history is absurd,” said Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of NPA, in a press release. “While this proposal is misguided, it is unfortunately becoming an alarming trend across the country as more states consider policies that would restrict access to nutritional supplements.”

The bill’s sponsors justify the bill citing an association between dietary supplements and eating disorders. NPA disputes this claim, saying that no such association has been proven. According to the trade association, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found no adverse events or reporting associated with dietary supplements and eating disorders.

“Nutritional supplements are simply natural ingredients found in foods and restricting access to them is unfair to California consumers, hurts responsible retailers and drains the state budget through lost sales taxes. Nobody wins,” said Fabricant.