Trade associations mobilize to oppose restrictive Massachusetts bill on fitness, weight supplements

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© chokkicx / Getty Images
© chokkicx / Getty Images

Related tags Sports nutrition products Creatine weight management products

Dietary supplement trade associations headed to Boston this week to provide testimony in opposition to bills that would restrict access to weight loss and sports nutrition dietary supplements for consumers under the age of eighteen.

The bills H.2215​/S.1465​ contain similar language to the one signed into law by New York Governor Kathy Hochul at the end of October​.

According to the text of the Massachusetts bill, dietary supplements formulated with creatine, green tea extract, raspberry ketone, garcinia cambogia, and green coffee bean extract would be considered to fall under the definition of weight loss or muscle building supplement products.

Representatives from both the Council for Responsible Nutrition and the Natural Products Association presented testimony to the state’s Joint Committee on Public Health in Boston this week in opposition to the Massachusetts bills.

In a press release from NPA, Kyle Turk, NPA’s Director of Government Affairs, stated: “It’s disingenuous to claim there is a connection between eating disorders and the use of dietary supplements. The FDA’s surveillance tools have never found a connection between any supplement and eating disorders. If they did, they’d be required to use their enforcement authority to act.

“Sadly, in its current form, this legislation will prevent consumers from taking their health into their hands and restrict their ability to supplement their potentially nutrient-deficient diets, a fundamental lesson we learned during COVID-19.”

“Supplements, which are easy to add to our daily diets, are often the first step many take toward greater nutritional awareness and healthy lifestyle choices,” added Turk.

CRN: “No credible scientific data”

Michael Meirovitz, CRN’s senior director, government relations, told the joint committee: “This proposed legislation does nothing to help those who suffer with it [an eating disorder]… unequivocally there is no credible scientific data that the products or ingredients identified in the legislation lead to, or cause, body dysmorphia, eating disorders or mental health issues.”

Meirovitz’s remarks also focused on the numerous challenges that Massachusetts consumers, retailers and regulators would face if the bill was enacted. In addition to demanding proof of age at checkout, the bill would require affected products to be “behind the retail counter or in a locked case,” making it more difficult for consumers of all ages to find these items and compare labels to select the product that’s right for them.

The broad and vague term “dietary supplement for weight loss or muscle-building” in the legislation creates difficulties for retailers to determine what’s actually covered, said Meirovitz. CRN also noted that any age-restriction legislation passed at the state level does not prevent young people from purchasing these products from going to other states to purchase products, or to buy them from online retail sites where enforcement is nearly impossible.

The committee also heard testimony from Susan Hewlings, RD PhD, who published a peer-reviewed examination of the literature in the scientific journal Nutrients in April, 2023 entitled “Eating Disorders and Dietary Supplements: A Review of the Science”​.  Dr Hewlings emphasized to lawmakers the lack of evidence in any scientific literature that dietary supplements are a cause of eating disorders. 

Commenting on the hearing, Steve Mister, President & CEO, said, “We remain hopeful that the committee will take a moment to look closely at the science in the submitted testimony and realize that this bill is trying to fix a complicated societal and medical issue with an oversimplified proposal. It conveniently scapegoats these products without providing meaningful solutions for young people who are affected by eating disorders.”

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