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Group Advocates for Age Limit for Weight Loss Supplements to Prevent Childhood Eating Disorders

by Daisy

A group of advocates and public health researchers took to the state House on Tuesday to lobby for a bill that would require identification for purchasing supplements that claim to build muscle or lose weight, aiming to keep unregulated and potentially dangerous drugs out of the hands of children.

What You Need to Know

Currently, there are no regulations around supplements that claim to build muscle or lose weight. Advocates argue that young people are using these over-the-counter supplements, which are contributing to eating disorders.

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STRIPED (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders) supports the bill, stating that banning children from accessing these supplements could prevent further issues with eating disorders.

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The treatment of eating disorders costs the state $1.4 million annually, whereas the proposed program would incur a one-time cost of less than $50,000.

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The bills are currently in the House Ways and Means Committee, with advocates pushing for education and passage before the legislative session ends on July 31.

Emily Newton-Hoe, a public health PhD candidate at Harvard and a former athlete who developed an eating disorder during her time at Clark University, is one of the advocates. After seven years of recovery, she now shares her story with legislators in hopes of protecting the next generation of athletes and children influenced by social media.

“There’s much more awareness of the role of social media and the harms it has, specifically on youth who are on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, and are bombarded with ads promoting diet culture,” said Newton-Hoe.

STRIPED estimates that over 600,000 Massachusetts residents will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime, costing the state $1.4 billion annually. The proposed bill, with an implementation cost of under $50,000, could potentially save billions in healthcare expenses.

Rep. Kay Khan (D-11th Middlesex), who has been advocating for this issue for nearly a decade and is retiring this year, is eager to see the bill passed. “This is one of my top priorities. I’ve been working on issues such as eating disorders for a very long time, and this bill has been around since 2015. I think it’s time,” said Khan.

With the legislative session ending at the end of the month, Khan remains open to negotiations to ensure the bill’s passage, whether as a standalone measure or as part of a broader package.

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