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The Newest Threat to Children’s Health? Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

akeg, Flickr

Schools have finally found the biggest danger threatening children today. And it’s not drugs or bullies or sex offenders; it’s Cheetos.

In California and New Mexico, school districts have banned the snack food Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, claiming that the snack could be considered a health hazard to students.

School officials say the concern is their nutritional value, or lack thereof. Each bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos contains 26 grams of fat and a quarter of the amount of salt that’s recommended for the entire day.

One school district in Illinois, which used to sell about 150,000 bags each year, has already taken the snack off its menu. “If children were to bring in snacks that are high in fat, high in calories, that’s their choice,” Rockford School District Interim Superintendent Robert Willis said. “We’re not going to be providing those kinds of foods.”

On top of the artificial coloring and flavoring, some experts say the Cheetos are “hyperpalatable,” meaning they’re highly addictive. “Our brain is really hardwired to find things like fat and salt really rewarding and now we have foods that have them in such high levels that it can trigger an addictive process,” said Ashley Gearhardt, a clinical psychologist at the University of Michigan.

Seriously, when are schools going to learn that it’s not just the food to blame? Yes, Cheetos are not exactly the healthiest thing you can find in a vending machine. But putting all the obesity blame on one single food won’t solve anything. If kids can’t get Flamin’ Hot Cheetos at school, they’ll just go to the next salty, greasy thing in the vending machine, or bring them from home.

It takes exercise AND healthier foods to really start solving the obesity issues. So maybe the schools should focus more on bringing back recess and less on demonizing snack foods.

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