A new study by US researchers has concluded that the “income burden” of dietary supplements falls disproportionately on low-income families.

The study, published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine Reports, focuses on household expenditure on supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building and sexual function – supplement categories where “serious health risks … are well-documented”, according to the authors.

The researchers, from T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston Children’s Hospital, Simmon College and Bates College, say that their study is the first examine the “financial burden” of (these) “ubiquitously available” and “risky” products.

The authors write: “Our study findings indicate that the financial burden of these industries borne by households is unevenly distributed by annual income and gender of head of household. While wealthier households spend more on these products in absolute dollars, it is low-income households that bear the heaviest financial burden for these products in terms of proportion of household income.

“These products, which have been flagged by the FDA as particularly dangerous, disproportionately burden households by income and gender. Greater attention is urgently needed to improve regulation and protect consumers from these noxious products.”