New York bill restricting sale of weight management and muscle building supplements fails to pass assembly

Lawmakers had until June 10 to vote on the bill, but the legislature adjourned early in the morning on June 11 without bringing the bill up for discussion, ending any prospect of its passage during the current legislative session.

A bill restricting access of weight management and muscle building dietary supplement for consumers under the age of 18 recently passed the New York State Senate, and moved on to the State Assembly. Lawmakers had until June 10 to vote on the bill, but the legislature adjourned early in the morning on June 11 without bringing the bill up for discussion, ending any prospect of its passage during the current legislative session. This is one of several bills across the country that have attempted to restrict access to weight management and sports nutrition products.

The rationale of lawmakers when drafting bills that prevent minors for purchasing weight management or muscle building supplements is the influence social media may have on the body image of teenagers. Social media influencers can often be seen endorsing products that promote weight loss, and there is a fear that teens, having internalized unrealistic body image standards, may abuse these products and develop eating disorders. Industry is dubious of the idea that dietary supplements are linked to eating disorders, and opposed the bill's passage.

The Natural Product Association (NPA; Washington, D.C.), for example, queried federal officials at FDA under the Freedom of Information Act to determine if an association between dietary supplements and eating disorders existed. Based on the data, NPA found no adverse events or reporting associated with dietary supplements and eating disorders. NPA also undertook a massive grassroots campaign to prevent the bill's passage, asking membes to urge the Governor and legislators to reject it. According to NPA, the effort garnered over 3,000 letters in opposition to the bill. Daniel Fabricant, president and CEO of NPA has also been active testifying against similar proposals in other states.

"Special thanks to all of our grassroots advocates who’ve sent over 7,000 letters to their legislators in states that have introduced proposals like this one to restrict access to supplements. We appreciate the dedication to the industry and making their voices heard in state capitols across the country,” said Mark LeDoux, board of directors chairman of NPA, in a press release.

"NPA invests significant times and resources in protecting the industry against wrongheaded proposals like this one," added Fabricant. "Had this legislation been enacted, it would have cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars in compliance. We are thrilled NPA was once again able to get the industry a much-needed victory.”

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, D.C.) also applauded the assembly's decision to not vote on the bill. CRN has also been working behind the scenes, lobbying lawmakers to oppose the bill. “CRN thanks the state assembly for recognizing the damage this bill would do to consumers and retailers,” said Julia Gustafson, vice president, government relations for CRN, in a press release. “This proposal would have needlessly restricted access to safe and beneficial products that may help consumers meet their fitness and weight goals without any scientific or legal basis to do so. Simultaneously, the bill would also place unreasonable compliance and economic burdens on retailers that may dissuade them from selling these products/ingredients at all.”

“The New York bill offers no reasonable solution to the problem the sponsors of the bill are seeking to solve,” added Gustafson. “CRN remains committed to working with stakeholders across states to address legitimate concerns relating to eating disorders and nutrition deficiencies they cause, but these proposals, and others like it, are not the solution.”

Article was updated on Friday, June 11 at 1:40PM