Posted on Jun 12, 2019, 5 p.m.
Research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests consumption of dietary supplements for weight loss, muscle building, and energy have been associated with nearly three times increased risk for severe medical events in children and young adults compared to the consumption of vitamins, as published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
“The FDA has issued countless warnings about supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building or sport performance, sexual function, and energy, and we know these products are widely marketed to and used by young people. So what are the consequences for their health? That’s the question we wanted to answer,” says lead author Floa Or.
Researchers investigated adverse reports in the US FDA Adverse Event Reporting System on the food and dietary supplement database; relative risk for severe events such as disability, hospitalization, and death were analyzed for individuals in the age frame of 0-25 years that were linked with the use of dietary supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building, or energy compared to vitamins.
977 single supplement related adverse events reports were found for the target age group, of which 40% involved severe medical outcomes which included hospitalization and death; based on findings weight loss, muscle building, and energy supplements were associated with close to three times the risk for severe medical outcomes as compared to vitamins; supplements sold for sexual function and colon cleanses were associated with close to two times the risk for severe medical outcomes as compared to vitamins.
Bryan Austin noted that most reputable physicians don’t recommend use of the type of supplements analyzed in this study as many of these products have been found to be adulterated with prescription pharmaceuticals, banned substances, heavy metals, pesticides, and other dangerous chemicals; and in addition other studies have found weight loss and muscle building supplements to be linked with stroke, liver damage, testicular cancer, and death.
“How can we continue to let the manufacturers of these products and the retailers who profit from them play Russian roulette with America’s youth? It is well past time for policymakers and retailers to take meaningful action to protect children and consumers of all ages.” says senior author S. Bryn Austin.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.