Governor Newsom Vetoes Important Bill to Protect Minors from Harmful Diet Pills

For immediate release:

(Sacramento)–Today, AB 1341 authored by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) was vetoed by Governor Newsom. AB 1341 would have prohibited any retail establishment from selling, transferring, or furnishing dietary supplements for weight loss or over the counter (OTC) diet pills to anyone under 18 years of age.

With nearly 30 million people in the US having developed an eating disorder in their lifetime and 95% of them developing between the ages of 12 and 25, this bill would have protected minors from dietary drugs and supplements. The FDA has failed at protecting children from these products and it is now up the states to regulate.

"It dumbfounds me that kids’ health and safety was not prioritized by the Governor. This was a common sense bill that aimed to protect minors. AB 1341 was a compromise between diet pill manufacturers and sellers that is the least restrictive to any individuals over 18 wishing to purchase these products while restricting the access minors will have to them," said the Chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said of her legislation. "We need to do everything we can now, not later, to protect our youth from the harmful effects caused by weight loss supplements and over-the-counter diet pills. With the current easy access, our youth are subject to eating disorders and many other health implications. We need to stand up to an industry that puts profit over people, and the Governor has failed to do that with his veto. I am disappointed that Governor Newsom vetoed this bill and is missing a real opportunity to have California lead the way for the nation to protect children,” concluded Garcia.

 

Health officials are growing increasingly alarmed by the use of diet pills and weight-loss supplements and want to limit their access especially in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic, “As a pediatrician specializing in adolescent eating disorders, I have cared for countless youth in California who have used weight loss supplements and diet pills, developed eating disorders, become critically ill, and required hospitalization. Hospitalizations for eating disorders have doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said University of California San Francisco Assistant Professor, Dr. Jason Nagata.

 

Diet pills and weight loss supplements have limited regulatory oversight and have raised alarms among youth health advocates. “Some of these dietary supplements are laced with banned pharmaceuticals, steroids, and other toxic ingredients. Dangerous stimulants are also often found in widely available supplements for weight loss. That’s just bad for our children and they need to be protected from exploitation,” said body image advocate Kelsey Wu the founder of For Her.

According to usage across race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status hurts many communities that already shoulder other health burdens. Additional findings include:

  • Women are two times more likely to use weight loss supplements and OTC diet pills than men[1]
  • African American and Latinx adults are at a higher risk of using weight loss supplements than white adults1
  • People in households with annual income less than $40,000 are more likely to use dietary supplements for weight loss than those with higher incomes1
  • Latinx teens are 40% more likely to use OTC diet pills than white teens[2]

Additional quotes:

Founder of For Her, Kelsey Wu:

“What’s so scary right now is that the groups who are supposed to be protecting us teenagers from these dangerous products are doing the exact opposite. Take the Council for Responsible Nutrition as an example. Their name indicates that they are a group that values safe and responsible nutrition, however, they want to be able to sell these dangerous products to minors in California and are opposed to AB 1341. Speaking on behalf of the children of California, all we are asking is for our leaders of the state to step up and act to protect the millions of youth in California from these dangerous products.”

University of California San Francisco Assistant Professor, Dr. Jason Nagata:
“Youth who use over-the-counter diet pills are six times more likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder compared to nonusers. Diet pills, weight loss supplements, and eating disorders affect youth of all races, genders, sexual orientations, sizes, and socio-economic backgrounds."

Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders, Director, Dr. Bryn Austin:

“The scientific research on the dangers of using weight-loss supplements is as incontrovertible as it is chilling: These products have been found again and again to contain a toxic brew of undisclosed ingredients linked to heart palpitations, cardiac arrest, stroke, and even liver damage so extensive as to require organ transplant or resulting in death. Knowing what we know today about these products, how can we continue to let the manufacturers and retailers who profit from them play Russian roulette with the children of California?”

View official Press Release via the PDF.