Update on H.4783
We are sorry to have to report that Massachusetts Rep. Kay Khan’s bill “An Act protecting children from harmful diet pills and muscle-building supplements” did not pass this year in the state legislature. Unfortunately, many other important bills also suffered a similar fate because of the disruptions caused this year by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though this is very disappointing, the bill made tremendous gains by getting reported out favorably from the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health and was moving through the legislative process till the pandemic changed everything this year. Many more lawmakers than in past years are now keenly aware of the dangerous impacts diet pills and muscle-building supplements have on youth and are willing to make policy change to protect children. These signs of progress will put us in a good place for the next legislative session when Rep. Khan files the bill again.
Thank you to all for your dedicated advocacy and perseverance throughout this process. We are especially grateful to Rep. Khan and her Chief of Staff Jessie Brunelle for being amazing champions of the bill and leading the charge at the Massachusetts Statehouse to protect young people. We will be back in action on this campaign next year, you can bet on that!
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.
Want to get involved with the Out of Kids’ Hands Campaign?
- Keep track of the latest activity and read the full text of the bill at https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H4783/BillHistory
- Post to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtags #outofkidshands (reflecting this specific campaign) and #mapoli (which will help people interested in Massachusetts politics find your posts)
- Read our health inequities fact sheet, policy brief , MA fact sheet, dietary supplements regulation fact sheet, supplement stories, H.1942 Talking Points, policy action videos, and science summaries to learn more – then share it with a friend or colleague!
- Sign up for the STRIPED email list for campaign updates and eating disorders prevention news and resources by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Don’t miss STRIPED’s 6-video training series on how providers can discuss dietary supplements to keep patients safe.
More reading about the dangers of dietary supplements for weight loss and muscle-building and other resources:
- Massachusetts youth surveyed nearly 500 of their peers across the state about weight-loss and muscle-building supplements. The youth uncovered alarming information on use of weight-loss and muscle-building supplements by minors. See the full results of the Massachusetts Youth Survey on Weight Loss and Muscle-building Supplements here.
- Check out the press release about this youth-led survey here.
- See similar bills that have recently been filed:
- New York State’s Assemblymember Nily Rozic filed A10138, a similar bill to ban the sale of diet pills and muscle-building supplements to minors in New York state.
- Representative Robyn Gabel of Illinois introduced Illinois HB3948, Over the Counter Diet Pill Act.
- Due to COVID-19 and the steps each state’s legislature has to make to address the crisis, Illinois HB3948, An Act protecting children from harmful diet pills, will not be going any further through the legislative process this session. However, this is not the end of Illinois HB3948! Representative Gabel of Illinois has plans to refile this bill in the next legislative session. Stay tuned for more updates from STRIPED and our partners with Be Real Illinois and learn ways you can support the campaign to get the bill passed in Illinois next year.
- City Councilor Mark Levine in New York City filed Int. No. 1485, A local law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to restricting the sale of senna- and saffron-based products.
- Assemblymember Monique Limόn in California filed a similar bill to ban the sale of weight loss supplements and pills to those under the age of 18 in California.
- Due to COVID-19 and the steps each state’s legislature has to make to address the crisis, California AB 3042 will not be going any further through the legislative process this session. However, this is not the end of California AB 3042! We are working on plans to refile the bill next year. Stay tuned for more updates from STRIPED and our partners in California and learn ways you can support the campaign to get the bill passed in California next year.
- New York Times article on the risks of muscle-building supplements: “When Teen Boys Use Supplements”
- Boston Globe article on the importance of this bill: “Dietary supplements, largely unregulated, deserve the state’s skepticism”
- New York 1 news piece and interview with Iman Hariri-Kia on dangerous dietary supplements
- American Academy of Pediatrics Report: Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents
- American Academy of Pediatrics Report: Use of Performance-Enhancing Substances
- Paper co-authored by STRIPED Director S. Bryn Austin: The Dangerous Mix of Adolescents and Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss and Muscle Building: Legal Strategies for State Action
- Paper co-authored by STRIPED Director S. Bryn Austin: Over-the-Counter and Out-of-Control: Legal Strategies to Protect Youths from Abusing Products for Weight Control
- News article from the Harvard Public Health Review: How America’s Flawed Supplement Law Creates the Mirage of Weight Loss Cures
- Attorneys General Letter on Dietary Supplements, sent by several state Attorneys General to the bipartisan leaders of the House Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, & Data Security and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health in 2015.
- Supplements and Health: Sorting the Facts Forum and Live Facebook Pre-Event Q&A, presented on May 11, 2017.
- WGBH Greater Boston segment on Rep. Khan’s bill and the dangers of dietary supplements sold for weight loss and muscle building dated September 28, 2017.
- Article in the Harvard Public Health Review by S. Bryn Austin titled Odds, Arcs, and Policy Change: A Step-by-Step Look at a Public Health Campaign Taking on the Dietary Supplements Industry
- Article co-authored by STRIPED’s Jordan Levinson and STRIPED Director S. Bryn Austin: Diet Pill and Laxative Use for Weight Control and Subsequent Incident Eating Disorder in US Young Women: 2001–2016
If you have questions, please contact Julia Vitagliano at email@example.com.