Hot cheetos red poop

This just in: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are not good for you. And America is panicking.

As Monica Eng of the Chicago Tribune originally reported, schools around the country have been cracking down on the radioactively red snack, which Plano-based Frito-Lay has been selling since the early nineties.

Eng’s story also included the killer detail, via a St. Louis Children’s Hospital pediatrician, that the food coloring in Flamin’ Hots can turn your stool red if you eat too many of them.

Which is why this story has been TV-newsed and blogreggated within an inch of its salty-spicy life.

The five things you need—ok, need might be a stretch—to know.

1. They’re basically a scapegoat
As Eng wrote in her original story, Flamin’ Hots are:

…shorthand for everything that is wrong with the diets of American children….

While it’s true that Flamin’ Hots, also known as Hot Cheetos, deliver high levels of salt, fat and artificial colors with little nutrition or fiber in return, the same can be said for similar snacks.

Yet there is something about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos that inflames critics in a way that other snacks — including regular Cheetos — never did.

Flamin’ Hots are just especially popular, and, like most processed foods, can be virtually addictive, with unrealistic recommended serving sizes.

Schools in Illinois, California and New Mexico have all instituted or considered bans of some kind, including asking parents to not put the snack food in their children’s home-packed lunches.

It’s become enough of a story that Frito-Lay issued a statement, as Sara Blankenship of the Dallas Observer noted:

“ committed to responsible and ethical marketing practices, which includes not marketing our products to children ages 12 and under. We also do not decide which snacks are available on school campuses and do not sell snack products directly to schools.”

2. They’re dirty
KOAT in New Mexico reported that one Albuquerque middle school health teacher’s concerns went beyond nutrition. Among the issues outlined in a letter he sent home to the parents of Lyndon B. Johnson middle school students was:

share the Cheetos, spreading germs…

“Kids are growing up pretty fast these days,” opined Jenn Wohletz of Denver’s Westword. “So if sharing bags of chips is the only way these freaky little pre-adolescents are getting germs from each other, then school officials should be grateful.”

The teacher’s letter continued:

And the last and messiest reason, janitors have to clean up red fingerprints everywhere from the dye in the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Folks, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos don’t mess up our schools. Children who eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and don’t wash their hands mess up our schools.

3. You probably shouldn’t put cheese sauce on them
The Tribune‘s Eng reported that public schools in Rockford, Illinois, “used to sell about 150,000 bags of Flamin’ Hots each year, often topped with hot nacho cheese.”

Now, she wrote, “the district still sells baked regular Cheetos — with cheese sauce on the side.”

So are we really gonna blame the snack food here?

Bettina Elias Siegel of the Huffington Post has also written about this educational/nutritional delicacy, which she had previously found to be available (albeit as two separate items students mixed together on their own) in a Houston ISD school cafeteria.

FYI, non-Flamin’ Cheetos with cheese sauce are particularly good on broccoli. Everything in moderation.

4. This is literally old news
Rockford’s Flamin’ Hot Cheetos ban dates back to 2010, while nearly every story in the past few weeks has highlighted the YouTube rap song/video “Hot Cheetos and Takis,” which was all the buzz two months ago.

And as Neetzan Zimmerman of Gawker noticed, the St. Louis NBC affiliate, KSDK, did the “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos turns your poo red” story two years ago, which may well be how Eng discovered St. Louis Children’s Hospital pediatrician Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann.

5. Did we mention they turn your poo red?
Which would be funny—and let’s face it, if you’re a thirteen-year-old boy, COOL—if not for the unsettling, needless, and expensive ER visits by parents thinking that it’s blood.

After Eng’s story ran, the St. Louis CBS affiliate, KMOX, also talked to Berchelmann, who noted that the only thing that’s wrong with children who express this symptom is they’re eating too much junk:

“So even though we might eat some foods with red food dye in them regularly, our stool doesn’t usually become discolored unless you eat huge amounts of it,” Berchelmann said. “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is one food that people will eat enormous amounts of and will see a change in their stool.”

As Brett Spiegel of Everyday Health wrote, some foods just do things to your business:

There’s usually no cause for alarm if your poop has a red hue. Many foods are known to tint stool red — beets, red peppers, red velvet cake, red meat, melons, cantaloupe, figs, horseradish, cauliflower, turnips, and radishes among them. Blueberries, black licorice, and iron supplements, to name a few, can be responsible for a darker, black shade. If you haven’t eaten any of these foods, and your stool is red, black, or otherwise unusually colored for you, check with your doctor.

CBS News’ Monica Castillo also talked to an emergency medicine physician, Robert Glatter of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, who said that “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 due to the red peppers and spice contained in the snack.”

In other words: heartburn.

So … anybody in the mood for a big bowl of Texas red? Maybe with a side of corn?

The 5 most disgusting things I saw in the ER in 2013

1) Flamin’ Hot Cheeto Poop
Looks like bloody poop, doesn’t it? Actually, this is what happens when you eat an entire bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. These spicy treats burn going down and they burn coming out. Ouch. Eat enough Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and you can get abdominal pain, too. Why do people eat the whole bag? Here’s my medical explanation for why you just can’t stop eating them.

2) Pinworms
See that little white thing—he moves. It’s a pinworm, eating poop. (I am not including a recent photo of a pinworm case I saw in the ER in the body of this post because of its graphic nature, but if you’d like to see what a pinworm looks like, click here.) You’ve probably had them some time in your life. 11.4% of people in the United States have pin worms at any given time, according to the CDC, and they are more common in children. Pinworms, also called thread worms, seat worms, or (medically) Enterobius, cause anal itch, often worse at night. About half of people with pinworms have no symptoms and just pass these little critters around. Sometimes toddlers wake up screaming in the night and can’t quite verbalize what’s wrong. When they come into the ER scratching their bottom, a close exam of their anus often reveals these little squirming white worms… They can infest the vagina, too. Pinworms are spread in a “fecal-oral” route, meaning that you have to ingest their eggs, which are found in poop. Once again, hand washing is your best form of defense. Here’s the good news: pinworms are easily treated with over-the-counter medications such as Pin-X or Reece’s Pinworm Medicine.

3) Juice box disaster
A patient came to my ER after noticing green slime coming up the straw from her Juicy Juice box. Her mom cut open the box – and brought her straight to the doctor. This is the photo of what we found in the unexpired juice box. Her juice box was full of mold—green slime that lined the edges of the box. Apparently moldy juice boxes and juice pouches (such as those made by Capri Sun) are nothing new. If even a tiny bit of air gets into the container molds can grow. Air can get into a juice box through a hole that’s so small you can’t see it, and it doesn’t cause leaking. Such a tiny puncture also permits the sugars in the juice to ferment, turning the product into a form of alcohol. Juicy Juice and many other kid’s juice products are made without preservatives, permitting mold to grow even more easily.

The good news for my patient is that moldy, fermented juice is usually not very dangerous to drink. An upset stomach and a totally grossed out mom are the most common complications.

But I recommended she cut out the juice, anyway. Why? Because juice is so full of sugar and calories that some have called it a gateway drug. Sugar ingestion can actually cause release of natural opiates (really). Opiate release stimulates the desire for other sweets and junk food. High salt and high fat foods can also trigger release of pleasure-inducing opiates. This is why so many people binge on ice cream, potato chips, and other favorite junk foods like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Here’s more about why juice is a “sometimes” food.

4) Dog bites to babies
Holidays are big days for dog bites in the ER. There is nothing that will ruin your family gathering like your in-law’s dog ripping apart your baby’s face. Dogs can feel threatened by toddlers who visit their homes for family gatherings. There are lots of great reasons to have a dog in a home full of kids, including a reduced risk of asthma and allergies, but all dogs can bite, and I see the worst of it in the ER. Please don’t ever let babies and dogs play on the floor together.

5) MRSA abscesses

These pus-filled smelly abscesses start out looking like an infected spider or mosquito bite, but can double in size in 24 hours. They are often caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staph aureus, which is now very common in our community. If you let them go a day or two, they may become so large that they have to be drained. We open them with a scalpel and the yellow pus just pours out. They are very common on the buttocks, although they can occur just about anywhere in the body.

On behalf of the mom-pediatricians here at ChildrensMomDocs.org, I wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2014.

This is not the first time that people who have eaten Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have said that the orange dust–covered snacks may have been responsible for their subsequent need to seek health care.
Earlier this year, a Tennessee mom said her teen daughter’s 4-bag-a-week snack habit, which included eating hot chips like Cheetos and Takis, may have contributed to her need for a gallbladder removal surgery.
And back in 2012, there were concerns that the snacks were leading to unnecessary trips to the emergency room because parents were mistaking the red dye in the snacks, which can make your stool look red, for blood.
In fact, gastrointestinal bleeding is serious and should be checked out. For example, vomiting blood can be a symptom of a stomach ulcer. Ulcers can happen when there is damage to the stomach lining, which is what protects your body from the stomach acid that digests your food. Blood vessels around the stomach can also be affected, which can sometimes cause vomit to look like it’s bloody or contains coffee grounds.
Stomach ulcers are generally caused by prolonged treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include over-the counter pain relievers like aspirin, Advil, or Motrin; an infection with a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), or sometimes a combination of the two.
The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning pain when you have an empty stomach, which may get better when you eat or take an antacid. The pain may come and go, and you can also have bloating, burping, or feel sick to your stomach or vomit.

Spicy foods can certainly aggravate ulcers, but they don’t cause them, explained Dr. Rabia De Latour, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at New York University Langone Health, who did not treat Lil Xan.

“Some people are just more sensitive to spicy food, and it can exacerbate symptoms that are already present,” she told BuzzFeed News.

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos: From Vending Machine to Emergency Room

FRIDAY, Oct. 19, 2012 — Doctors in St Louis are pointing fingers at Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, citing the spicy, cheesy snack as the culprit for recent spikes in emergency room visits. Due to excessive amounts of red and orange food dye in the treat, parents and children are mistaking red coloring in their stool for blood and rushing to hospitals in panic.

The doctors’ complaint comes just days after the attempted ban of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos from school vending machines in New Mexico, Illinois, and California due to their lack of nutritional value. According to Cheetos manufacturer Frito-Lay, an ounce of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (about 21 pieces) contains 160 calories, 250 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of fat, and 1.5 grams of saturated fat.

Though medical experts say that there is most likely nothing physically wrong with the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos-eating population, the fact that so many people are eating so many Cheetos exposes another, larger concern.

“So even though we might eat some foods with red food dye in them regularly, your stool doesn’t usually become discolored unless you eat huge amounts of it,” Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, a pediatrician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital told CBS station KMOX-TV . “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is one food that people will eat enormous amounts of and will see a change in their stool.”

Additionally, scientists, researchers, and nutritionists all fear that, because it is a processed food, the “hyper-palatable” combination of the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos’ fat, salt, and spiciness could potentially make it hard for people to stop eating the snack.

“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, MS, MPhil, a clinical psychology professor at University of Michigan told the Chicago Tribune regarding processed foods. “Going along with that, we are seeing those classic signs of addiction, the cravings and loss of control and preoccupation with it.”

Many have also reported abdominal and chest pain as a result of indulging in the peppery goodies. “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,” Robert Glatter, MD, an emergency medicine physician for Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told CBSNews.com.

Dr. Glatter warns that those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, should avoid Flamin’ Hot Cheetos altogether to avoid risk of flare-ups.

When it comes to poop color, he notes that bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract — esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and small bowel — will make stool look black, while bleeding from the lower gastrointestinal tract, specifically the small intestine, yields red or maroon colored poop.

There’s usually no cause for alarm if your poop has a red hue. Many foods are known to tint stool red — beets, red peppers, red velvet cake, red meat, melons, cantaloupe, figs, horseradish, cauliflower, turnips, and radishes among them. Blueberries, black licorice, and iron supplements, to name a few, can be responsible for a darker, black shade. If you haven’t eaten any of these foods, and your stool is red, black, or otherwise unusually colored for you, check with your doctor.

We contacted Frito-Lay for comment and are awaiting a response.

Can Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Really Send You to the Hospital?

Aside from Lil Xan’s lil incident, the biggest blip on the “Hot Cheetos Will Lead to Hospitalization” radar happened way back in 2012, on the precipice of FHC’s popularity. But, it was really a case of food coloring-fueled misunderstanding, as many parents were taking their kids to the hospital after discovering (what they thought) was blood in their stool and/or vomit. It was just flamin’ hot dust staining the bodily fluids of our children. No big deal!

Aside from that, it does seem pretty clear that the level of spice present in snacks like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos can exacerbate stomach issues, and even cause some slight levels of discomfort in those without preexisting stomach issues. But this could pretty much pertain to almost any spicy food.

To be certain of the particular threat of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, I consulted Dr. Partha Nandi, the creator and host of the Emmy-award winning, gastro-centric show, Ask Dr. Nandi, who had this to say:

“Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and similar snacks can cause stomach irritation and damage in some individuals so it’s definitely possible that they affected Lil Xan. These are not great snacks with its simple carbs and artificial ingredients. It’s really high in calories as well. So, have Flamin’ Hot Cheetos once in a while but don’t make it a habit.”

This pretty much corroborates with what the internet — and my intuition, which is basically the internet of my soul — has told me. Either Mr. Xan was eating way, way too many Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (like hundreds per day), or, he had a preexisting stomach condition that was severely bothered by the spices.

So the moral of the story is the same moral of so many viral, food-based internet tales of modern times: Ridiculous food is usually OK, in moderation.

Just pace yourself, kids. And if anything, let Lil Xan serve as a example of both how to live, and how not to live, simultaneously.

Why someone would try to deny others the opportunity to enjoy a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, I will never understand. But a few years ago, schools in California, New Mexico, and Illinois decided to ban the snack from on-campus consumption.

Its lack of nutritional value was the main reason the schools labeled Flamin’ Hot Cheetos contraband. But kids were also eating way more than the recommended portion amount, and the whole addictive thing didn’t really help either.

  1. They’ve Been Behind Some Serious Health Scares

I’ve joked about the potency in a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but these snacks have been the reason for one too many hospital visits. People who eat large amounts of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have had chest and stomach pains, as well as their poop turning red from the dye.

  1. The Spiciness Is a Mystery

What makes these Cheetos “flaming hot” is as much of a secret as the Krabby Patty formula. The public has no idea what combination of spices is used in the recipe.

The bag lists, “Flamin’ Hot Seasoning” as an ingredient, but the maltodextrin in it doesn’t give us much insight into the spicy factor. The world may never know.

  1. They Can be Eaten in Many Ways

You don’t have to limit yourself to just enjoying Flamin’ Hot Cheetos straight from the bag. People have taken this snack food and used it to enhance everyday foods.

I’m talkin’ anything from Cheeto-ritos to Hot Cheetos Crispy Treats; even restaurants are trying to incorporate the snack in their dishes.

So the next time you’re in 7-Eleven with the late night munchies—think twice before reaching for this bag of maltodextrin flavored snacks. Or if you’re like me, grab two.

Related:

  • Healthy Meal Hall Hacks for When Salad Bar Becomes Unbearable
  • These Vegan Sweet Potato Brownies Will Make You Wish More Desserts Had Veggies in Them
  • These Carrot Cake Cookies Have the Perfect Frosting-to-Cookie Ratio

10.19.12 11:00 AM EDT By Mary Beth [email protected]

health cheetos flamin’ hot cheetos

(CBS News)

“Honey, could you come to the bathroom for a minute and look at what Bobby’s done?” “Oh my, that is quite a vibrant shade of red, let’s panic and take him to the emergency room.” I don’t have kids but I imagine that’s how the conversation would go if your child’s bathroom output was an unnatural color, but it turns out it’d be an unnecessary visit. In fact, doctors are peeved at Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for sending parents needlessly rushing with their kids to the emergency room, all because of that pesky red food dye that’s used to show just how flaming hot those Cheetos really are.

Schools are already pushing back against the snack and banning it from their campuses due to its lack of nutritional value, reports CBS News. And there’s also research out there that likens the brain’s response to the snack to how addicts crave drugs. But in this case, it’s just red poop that’s worrying parents.

All that red dye can color your stool, say medical professionals, if you’re ingesting large quantities of the stuff. But parents immediately see blood when they see red and rush off to the hospital. Most of the time, they’re wrong.

“Food such as beets or red peppers can make stool appear red, however it is not actually blood in the stool,” an emergency medicine physician for a New York hospital, told CBSNews.com.

You have to eat so much of the stuff, however, that if you’re seeing red in the toilet it could be a sign that you’re eating way too many Cheetos.

“So even though we might eat some foods with red food dye in them regularly, our stool doesn’t usually become discolored unless you eat huge amounts of it,” another doctor pointed out. “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is one food that people will eat enormous amounts of and will see a change in their stool.”

The poo problem with Cheetos isn’t the only health concern surrounding the snack, however.

“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 due to the red peppers and spice contained in the snack,” said one of the doctors, warning that if you already have problems like acid reflux or heartburn, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos could lead to a flare-up.

So the next time Bobby has a questionable output, look at his hands and face first to see if they’re covered in remnants of red Cheetos dust before you head to the ER.

Why Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are sending kids to ER

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.

Like any red-blooded American, I freaking love Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. There is no stronger addiction than the one for these chips. Once you start eating them, you cannot stop. Trust me, I’ve tried. Now, we all realize that these chips are horrible for us, but does this deter us? No. But, maybe it should.

Doctors Say

Dr. Martha Rivera, a pediatrician at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, told KABC-TV in a report that she sees around five to six cases of kids with gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) daily, after they’ve eaten spicy foods, or say, wolfed down a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. She reports that they are being set up for ulcerations, erosions, and possibly even peptic ulcer disease.

In regards to the fiery red coloring of this snack, Dr. Kathleen Berchelman says that if one sees red in their stool after eating, it’s probably not blood, but from the red coating on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. However, in order for that to happen, you’d have to eat quite a lot, and that’s a sign of over-eating. Eating red food shouldn’t turn your stool red unless you eat copious amounts of it.

Stomach Pains for Days

Symptoms of gastritis include burning pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, and even vomiting. Particularly, the coating of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos could be the cause, possibly changing the stomach’s pH, according to Dr. Robert Glatter, who spoke with ABC News.

Moderation will be your best friend when it comes to eating these little pieces of heaven, so maybe stick to one small bag, not a giant one.

Nutrition

Should we talk nutrition? Ugh, fine. These chips are pretty unhealthy. Like I said, they and can even make your poo red. For a middle school boy, this might be amazing and quite amusing, but for the rest of us, well…not so much. (In other cases, red stool can be a serious sign that you need to go to the hospital.)

And with 160 calories, 250 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of fat, and 1.5 grams of saturated fat in a serving, we might want to control our obsession. Just a tiny bit.

Children Beware

Children seem to be the main victims here. Most reports point to children having the stomach issues, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were even banned in some schools.

Frito Lay, the parent company of Cheetos, said that it is “committed to responsible and ethical practices, which includes not marketing our products to children age 12 and under.”

So let’s keep the Cheetos eating to the big kids. We do it the best.

Eat the Damn Chips

All in all, just beware of over-eating. But you should be OK to eat the Cheetos. They are amazing and spicy and will be nicer to you than any boy ever has.

Is it medically possible to overdose on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?

Junk food aficionados gulped in worry this week when rapper Lil Xan revealed that he had landed in an ER after OD’ing on America’s No. 1 cult-favorite snack, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

“I was in the hospital. Not due to any drugs, but I guess I ate too many hot Cheetos,” said Noah Cyrus’ 22-year-old ex in a video post on Instagram. “I guess it ripped something in my stomach a little bit, so I puked a little blood.”

The harrowing report was enough to make anyone lose their munchies — and is now raising panicky questions about the safety of the popular spicy treat.

Dr. Edward Goldberg, a Manhattan-based gastroenterologist and internist in private practice, says overindulging on fiery foods can inflame the stomach lining and lead to bloody retching similar to Lil Xan’s, a fairly common condition called gastritis.

“Any irritant can cause gastritis,” Goldberg tells The Post — supersize servings of greasy, peppery corn crunchies included.

In most cases, however, diet is not the only factor at play.

“I think putting the blame on this food product is a bit of a stretch,” Goldberg says. “Yes, it could be irritation from the food. But without knowing what else is going on . . . Without knowing that, I would be pretty hard-pressed to blame this on .”

Other factors known to cause or exacerbate gastritis include use of alcohol and nicotine, he says. Lil Xan has spoken out on facing sobriety challenges in the past; the rapper’s current sobriety status is unknown.

In addition to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos’ proprietary spice blend, potential stomach irritants in the snack’s ingredients list include citric acid and MSG, which can cause discomfort when eaten in large amounts on an otherwise empty stomach, according to the FDA. Parent company Frito-Lay did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Whatever the cause of his digestive woes, Lil Xan was smart to get checked out, Goldberg says. In rare cases, blood in vomit can be a sign of more serious conditions such as esophageal cancer.

This isn’t the first time ultra-spicy snacks have been implicated in serious illness, either. This past summer, a 17-year-old girl in Tennessee said she had to have her gallbladder removed after hitting the Hot Takis and Hot Fries too hard.

In that case, Goldberg says the snacks’ high fat content may have caused “stress” and inflammation to the bile-producing organ, especially if the teen’s intake was “abrupt.”

Pass the carrot sticks.

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Ignite Nutrition Debate in Schools

Scarlet-hued and finger-staining, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have a devoted following among students across the country who often ditch a healthy lunch for a soda and a crinkly snack bag.

The artificially flavored and colored junk food even has a preteen YouTube rap hit devoted in part to it.

“Snack, snack, snack, crunch,” goes the refrain of the song, which was released in August by a Minnesota YMCA. “I can’t get enough of these Hot Cheetos and Takis.”

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Local news from across Southern California

The consumption trend seems to have peaked, long after Cheetos-maker Frito-Lay released its first Flamin’ Hot variety in the early 1990s. And while high-fat, high-salt snacks targeted at teens and urban markets are nothing new, the fierce devotion of students to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos has some questioning whether they’re addictive.

In recent years the snack has come under fire from school districts concerned about its nutritional value – or lack thereof.

Several schools in Pasadena, Calif., banned the snacks in 2006, with administrators saying the Cheetos would be confiscated if they were brought to campus by students. The policy has gotten increased media attention recently after a Chicago Tribune story examined the Flamin’ Hot snack-food phenomenon, according to Pasadena Unified School District spokesman Adam Wolfson.

“We have to provide foods with a certain amount of nutritional value, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos do not meet that, along with countless other snacks,” Wolfson said.

The confiscation policy at some schools was instituted because the Cheetos were causing too much disruption, with kids selling them “on the black market,” Wolfson said.

“Are we on a witch hunt for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? No. Are they bad for kids and we’re happy to make it harder for them to eat them? Sure,” he added.

The nation’s second-largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, like Pasadena Unified, follows California law limiting items that can be sold on public K-12 campuses by nutritional content. That generally means no Flamin’ Hots or other low-nutrition snacks.

Schools in New Mexico and Illinois, meanwhile, have also reportedly banned the snacks or asked parents to stop buying them for kids, citing nutritional concerns.

A 1 oz. serving of the crunchy variety of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos has 160 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 10 percent of day’s recommended intake of sodium.

That doesn’t sound so bad. However, the snack often comes in bags that offer two or more times that amount of Cheetos, which offer almost no dietary fiber or protein.

The “new bigger size” bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos contains 3 3/4 oz., or nearly 680 calories, 44 grams of fat, and 40 percent of day’s recommended sodium, according to the package nutritional label.
For its part, Frito-Lay has recently responded to the controversy, issuing the following statement:
“Frito-Lay is committed to responsible and ethical marketing practices, which includes not marketing our products to children ages 12 and under. We also do not decide which snacks are available on school campuses.”

The issue has been the subject of recent research on “hyperpalatable foods” and addiction.

Ashley Gearhardt, a clinical psychology professor at University of Michigan who studies neural similarities between drug addiction and problem eating behaviors, told the Chicago Tribune that people react differently to processed food – which is often simultaneously high in both fat and sugar, unlike natural, whole foods.
“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,” Gearhardt told the newspaper.

“Going along with that, we are seeing those classic signs of addiction, the cravings and loss of control and preoccupation with it,” she said.

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