Industry Advocates Fight Back Against New York's Supplement Ban

In April, New York enacted a law prohibiting the sale of weight loss and muscle-building dietary supplements to individuals under 18, sparking pushback from the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a dietary supplement industry advocate.

On April 22, a law signed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul took effect, banning the sale of over-the-counter weight loss and muscle-building dietary supplements to people under 18.

According to the regulations, people in New York must provide proof of age via a driver's license or other government-issued identification to buy supplements labeled or marketed for losing weight or building muscle. Individuals purchasing these products online must also provide proof of age, and sellers must ship the products in a way that requires the recipient to show this proof when signing for delivery.


Retailers who violate the rule are subject to fines of up to $500 per incident.

According to the law, supplements subject to the ban include those that contain:

  • Ingredients cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight loss of muscle building
  • Steroids
  • Creatine
  • Green tea extract
  • Raspberry ketone
  • Garcinia cambogia
  • Green coffee bean extract

Products also included are those with labeling that bears images or statements that suggest it will maintain or reduce body weight, boost metabolism, or increase muscle strength and mass.

However, protein powders, protein drinks, and foods marketed as containing protein are not subject to the new law as long as they do not contain an ingredient that could be considered a weight loss/muscle-building supplement.

While the law details which products are banned for sale to minors, supplement industry stakeholders claim the law's language is vague, creating liability issues for manufacturers and retailers.

Supporters applaud the ban

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers played a significant role in passing the new law. The school's Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED), a group dedicated to eating disorder prevention, praised the new regulations, suggesting that these supplements are not adequately regulated by the FDA and can contain potentially harmful ingredients.

They note that these products have been linked to an increased risk of eating disorders and illegal anabolic steroid use in young people.

"From social media influencers promoting unattainable body ideals to the corner pharmacy selling snake oil diet pills and muscle supplements, there is no shortage today of predatory companies trying to make a buck off of teens' mental health struggles and body insecurities," said STRIPE director S. Bryn Austin, professor of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a news release. "Though we can't legislate body confidence, we can change laws to make it harder for these companies to prey on kids."

The group is backing similar legislation in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, and New Jersey.

Supplement industry advocates fight back

Before New York's ban on the sale of diet and muscle gain supplements to minors went into effect, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, filed a lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality.

Then, in early April, CRN filed an emergency motion to stop the law from taking effect.

In a press release, CRN President and CEO Steve Mister said, "This new law was pushed by social advocates relying on an unscientific and meritless argument that dietary supplements somehow cause eating disorders in young people, when the research shows they do not."

Mister added that the law won't help young people with eating disorders. Instead, it will stop families in New York from purchasing nutrition products they use to keep their families healthy.

Scoop with amino acid supplement
Image by Pixel-Shot via Shutterstock

While the motion was denied, the court case continued. CRN also claimed that the enforceable law infringes on First Amendment rights by restricting truthful commercial speech and access to lawful products without clear scientific proof. The state of New York filed a motion to dismiss this claim, which a U.S. District Court Judge denied.


On July 8, CRN filed an appellate brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit challenging the lower court's decision to deny the preliminary injunction in its lawsuit. The brief highlights several concerns with the decision, including how the court analyzed the First Amendment infringement claims and whether the ban is necessary, as the FDA already regulates dietary supplements.

Others speak out

Industry leaders, including Carlos Lopez, the vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary for The Vitamin Shoppe, support CRN's efforts. In an article published in April, Lopez told Nutraceuticals World that the prevalence of disordered eating among adolescents is a serious public health concern.

However, "there is no conclusive scientific evidence that dietary supplements cause disordered eating among teens," Lopez said. "And by devoting public energy and resources to this new law that prohibits the sale of certain dietary supplements to teens instead of expending those resources to programs and policies that address the true causes of disordered eating, the New York Legislature and Gov. Hochul have done a disservice to at-risk adolescents."

The Natural Products Association (NPA) also filed a lawsuit challenging the weight loss and muscle-building supplement ban in December 2023. The organization is currently weighing legal options as CRN's case moves forward.

Can weight loss supplements lead to eating disorders?

A study published in 2019, conducted by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan and Boston Children's Hospital, found that young women who used diet pills or laxatives had a higher risk of being diagnosed with an eating disorder within one to three years than those who refrained from using these products.

In contrast, a 2023 study suggests that current evidence does not support the theory that dietary supplements cause eating disorders. However, some evidence points to a potential link between the use of some supplement products and a later eating disorder diagnosis. Still, the study's authors say that supplement use appears to be more of a symptom or behavior associated with eating-related conditions rather than a cause.


Leave a reply

Your email will not be published. All fields are required.