uses JavaScript to provide the best possible experience for our content, but your browser has it disabled. Learn how to enable it here.


Posted June 20, 2019

Weight Loss, Muscle & Energy Supplements Linked to Adverse Events in Children and Young Adults

Consumption of dietary supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building, and energy are associated with an increased risk for severe medical events in children and young adults compared to the consumption of vitamins, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the Adolescent Health.

Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed adverse event reports associated with use of a single supplement between January 2004 and April 2015 in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System on food and dietary supplements database for individuals between the age of 0 and 25 years. Severe adverse events were defined as death, disability, life-threatening events, hospitalization, ER visit, and/or required intervention to prevent permanent disability.

Over the 11-year period, there were 977 single-supplement-related adverse events, and 40% of these involved severe medical outcomes, including hospitalization (166), life-threatening events (39) and death (22). Compared with vitamins, weight loss, muscle building, and energy supplements were associated with almost three times the risk for severe medical outcomes compared with vitamins and supplements sold for sexual function and colon cleanse were associated with approximately two times the risk. Adverse events were most frequent among those ages 18 to 25 years. Names and brands of specific products associated adverse events were not provided in the analysis.

The researchers noted the American Academy of Pediatrics' position that children and adolescents should not use supplements for weight loss and muscle building purposes, and that energy drinks can be dangerous in in children and young adults (Golden, Pediatrics 2016; LaBotz, Pediatrics 2016; American Academy of Pediatrics 2011).

See Related Warnings:

Adverse Effects From Energy Drinks Common Among Youth and Young Adults

Consuming a Single Energy Drink May Increase Cardiovascular Risk

Increase in Calls to Poison Control Centers About Supplements

Case of Hemorrhagic Stroke Linked to Redline Energy Drink

Energy Drink Linked to Case of Acute Hepatitis

Some Supplements May Cause or Exacerbate Heart Failure (Includes vitamin E and many herbs)

23,000 ER Visits Linked to Supplements: Palpitations, Swallowing Problems, Allergies Common

To read the study abstract, use the link below.