Out of Kids’ Hands

Protecting young people in MA from dangerous weight loss and muscle-building products

Supplements sold to induce weight loss or muscle growth are common and widely available to consumers of all ages. They also rarely work as advertised; although they are marketed as being herbal in origin, they often contain unlisted chemical ingredients. Stimulants, anti-depressants, and the active ingredient in failed weight-loss drug Meridia (sibutramine) have all been found in these products, and young people have died from their use. That’s why eating disorders clinicians and researchers consider their use an “unhealthy weight control behavior” (abbreviated UWCB). UWCBs are risk factors for eating disorders that can become symptoms as a disorder develops. From pills and powders on pharmacy shelves to teas and lollipops advertised on billboards and Instagram, these products are widely available and heavily promoted. The FDA can test these products once there is evidence of a problem, and can issue recalls when contaminants are found.  But for the most part, the purchase of these products is unrestricted and young people may not be aware of the risks.

Here in Massachusetts, a group of advocates is trying to change that. An Act Protecting Children From Harmful Diet Pills and Muscle-Building Supplements, H.4783 (formally H.1942), was first introduced by Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) in 2015. This bill would restrict the sale of these products to adults ages 18 and over in order to keep these dangerous products #OutOfKidsHands.

Partner Organization Letter in support of MA H.1942

Want to get involved with the Out of Kids’ Hands Campaign?

More reading about the dangers of dietary supplements for weight loss and muscle-building and other resources:

If you have questions, please contact Julia Vitagliano at julia.vitagliano@childrens.harvard.edu.