The federal government on Tuesday announced plans to ban dietary supplements containing ephedra because of continued health concerns about the product and warned consumers not to take products containing the stimulant. The government has determined that products containing ephedra present an unreasonable risk of illness or injury.

But how does the American consumer view dietary supplements?

West Virginia University researchers Paula Bone and Karen France have found that consumers often have a predisposition to either accept the claims of dietary supplements or not. Many ignore the FDA ’s cautionary statements included on labels as a mere government requirement.

“The regulation of marketplace information regarding health and nutrition is in flux. Nowhere, perhaps, is this more evident than in the dietary supplement industry,”said Paula Bone, a marketing professor at the College of Business and Economics.

“Because dietary supplements are neither food nor drug, the Food and Drug Administration has limited ability to regulate packaging claims,”Bone added.”The manufacturers can make a number of’structure function’claims with little evidence that a supplement significantly affects a particular body function.”

Bone and France looked at consumers’beliefs regarding the effectiveness of garlic, a dietary supplement and the manufacturer’s claim that it”maintains a healthy circulatory system.”Through a national survey conducted in malls in seven states, the researchers also examined beliefs regarding the effectiveness of the supplement to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, the degree to which consumers believed scientist were sure that such effects occurred and beliefs regarding whether the FDA had examined the product.