Lifestyle & Belief

Should the supplements you take require FDA approval?

Updated:

“Lose belly fat.” “Build muscle.” “Lower your cholesterol.” “Improve your sex drive.” Browse the shelves of any supermarket or pharmacy, and you will find dietary supplements that promise to do all this, and more.

 

Supplements are a multibillion-dollar business, and today more than half of American adults take them, many at the advice of their doctors. But dietary supplements can have real risks. They are not required by federal law to be proven safe “to the FDA’s satisfaction” before hitting the market, raising concern among critics about a perceived lack of safety oversight and consumer education.

Using the latest science as the basis for discussion, experts examined the risks and benefits of supplements in a Facebook Live Q&A followed by a Harvard Forum discussion.

This panel will attempted to help sort the facts about supplements and health. How effective are supplements? What about dosages, or interactions with prescription medications? Should supplements be subject to more stringent rules and tests? What role should doctors, pharmacists and drugstores have in helping consumers make safe, educated choices about supplements?

You can keep the conversation going. Tweet us @prithworld and @ForumHSPH with the hashtag #Supplements

The full Harvard Forum is at the top of this post and below is the Q&A. Both were recorded live at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Moderator: Carol Hills
Senior Producer and Reporter, PRI's The World

Expert Participants:

S. Bryn Austin
Professor, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; and Director, STRIPED (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders)

Charles Bell
Programs Director for Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports

Pieter Cohen
General Internist, Cambridge Health Alliance; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

JoAnn Manson
Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health