Spicy snacks hospitalize kids

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

susans flaming cheetoh casserole
Put down the Cheetos and step away from the bowl!

Many school districts have taken steps to ban spicy food snacks from certain campuses due to their lack of nutrition and overall unhealthy nature. However, doctors fear there’s another reason to avoid mouth-burning snacks: they could land a child directly in the emergency room!

According to doctors, there’s something about the flavoring that seems to cause stomach illnesses such as gastritis – a painful inflammation (swelling) of the stomach lining. Dr. Martha Rivera, a pediatrician at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, said she sees somewhere up to 5-6 cases of gastritis in a single day. “We have a population who loves to eat the hot spicy, not real foods, and they come in with these real complaints,” said Rivera.

However, it’s not just the spicy factor that’s causing these problems. As emergency room physician Robert Glatter points out, he hasn’t seen patients experiencing pain if they eat too much spicy salsa. Part of the problem seems to be with spicy snack flavoring. The worst part is that kids often like this flavoring the most. “It’s almost like a food addiction. They seek out the burn,” said Glatter. “It’s a little thrill-seeking. ‘It’s like how much can I tolerate?’ and I’ve seen a number of children who eat four or five bags and come in screaming in pain.”

A simple way to avoid this health risk is to stay away from spicy snacks altogether. Instead of reaching for a bag of Hot Cheetos, go for a platter of healthy fruits and veggies. You’ll be glad when you’re not doubled over in pain from gastritis.

Featured image courtesy of Brian Herbst on Flickr. Image of Cheetos family courtesy of Walt Otto on Flickr.