Speaking of Health – Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

By Joan Cook (AP)

Yale University

The following story is from a special that aired on KABC-TV in Los Angeles, California, and quite relevant since the epidemic appears to have hit Van Horn.  In the last few months, there have been several cases of stomach distress that was attributed to the patient eating bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

“Before you eat that entire bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, be sure you’re aware of the effect it might have on your stomach lining.

Pediatricians across the nation believe that spicy hot Cheetos and other chips are causing plenty of unnecessary emergency room visits. Not only do doctors see kids doubled over with stomach pain after downing several bags of the snacks, but they also see lot of worried parents who believe their child’s stool has blood in it, due to the dark orange and red coloring of the snacks.

“We have a population who loves to eat the hot, spicy, not-real foods, and they come in [to the emergency room] with these real complaints,” Dr. Martha Rivera of White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles told KABC-TV. “[The kids are being] set up for ulcerations, erosions and… peptic ulcer disease.”

Andrew Medina, 12, eats bags of spicy snacks — up to 20 or 30 per month. After experiencing stomach pain, he went to see the doctor, who told him the spicy chips were causing gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis is associated with bloating, burning, and vomiting. “Like if you have a bruise or something,” Medina explained, according to KABC-TV. “It really hurts a lot.”

“A number of patients who have consumed these Cheetos in excess have complained of pain in their upper abdomen, rising up into their chest, likely due to the red peppers and spice contained in the snack,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told CBS News.

There are already some school districts in New Mexico, California and Illinois that have banned the snacks due to their lack of nutritional value, hoping to encourage children to eat healthier foods like string cheese, apples, or pretzels instead of spicy chips and Cheetos. About 21 pieces of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos contains 160 calories, 250 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of fat, and 1.5 grams of saturated fat, according to Frito-Lay, the manufacturer of Cheetos.

Some scientists and doctors cite the addictive qualities of food products like Cheetos as one reason why children may overeat them. “It’s something that has been engineered so that it is fattier and saltier and more novel to the point where our body, brain, and pleasure centers react to it more strongly than if we were eating, say, a handful of nuts,” Ashley Gearhardt, a clinical psychology professor at the University of Michigan, told the Chicago Tribune. “Going along with that, we are seeing those classic signs of addiction, the cravings and loss of control and preoccupation with it.” Because Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have become so popular among young people, other snack companies have created spicy products to compete: Hot ‘N Spicy Crunchy Nuggetz, Sizzlin’ Cheese Flavored Twists, and Sizzlin’ Hot Crunchy Kurls, for example.

Children should avoid eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and other processed snacks in large quantities in order to avoid gastritis and other health risks. “It burns when it goes down, it burns when it comes out,” Dr. Rivera told KABC-TV.”


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