(NEW YORK) – Lawmakers are seeking to limit the sale of diet pills and diet supplements to children with the introduction of new bills in California and New York.
The bills in California and New York would ban retailers from selling over-the-counter weight loss supplements and diet pills to anyone under 18 without a prescription. These supplements and pills are not required to be reviewed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the federal agency has warned the public about the dangers of certain weight loss products, pointing out tainted pills that have been contaminated with dangerous ingredients.
Overall, the diet pill industry in the United States is largely unregulated.
According to a 2020 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, women aged 14 to 36 who used diet pills were five times more likely to develop an eating disorder over the next one to three years than those who did not take it. which looked at data from over 10,000 women from 2001 to 2016.
More research is still needed to determine the correlation between weight loss supplements and diet pill use and eating disorders.
“Observation and association do not prove cause and effect. So we don’t know if the eating disorder caused the use of the dietary supplement or the pill or vice versa,” ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said Thursday on “Good Morning America”.
“Also, doctors don’t normally write prescriptions for over-the-counter supplements. But the intention here [behind the bills] is a good one, which is to try to protect this vulnerable population,” Ashton added.
For parents concerned about their kids possibly using unregulated diet pills, Ashton recommends finding out what kids are saying and doing and having conversations with them about healthy body perceptions.
“I think parents need to be on the lookout…and not just girls but boys too. So I think they need to pay attention to what their kids and teens are saying and doing. Talk to them. Keep that online communication dialogue open and emphasize that health is really just as internal as it is, if not more, than what you can see,” Ashton said.
In addition to ongoing discussions, parents should also model and encourage healthy eating habits, physical activity, and adequate sleep patterns.
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