3 Food Additives That Are Harmful to Your Child
By CARA CASTRONUOVA
There are many food ingredients that contribute toward childhood obesity and other disturbing health problems in children. They are common ingredients in foods that parents can unknowingly purchase -- perhaps due to the cheaper price appeal of these products and also a lack of knowledge as to what the dangers are of consuming these foods. Parents (and children) may also be manipulated by clever marketing from food companies. These products are marketed to appeal to children: sugar cereals, candies, and foods with "healthy" packaging.
The solution is to start reading labels and doing your homework to research questionable ingredients in food products that you will be feeding your child.
Here are three harmful additives to avoid:
1. High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup, a severely genetically modified sugar replacement, is a cheap solution for food manufacturers to cut costs and increase their profit margin. In 1982 this artificial sweetener was introduced to America. According to the CDC, since 1980 overweight rates have doubled among U.S. children and tripled among U.S. adolescents. What's more, Type 2 diabetes - once believed to affect only adults - is now being diagnosed among young people.
A 2010 Princeton University study of rats with access to high fructose corn syrup and rats with access to regular table sugar found that high-fructose corn syrup created considerably more weight gain.
“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said Princeton psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”
2. Partially Hydrogenated Oil and Trans Fat
Not all fats are bad for you, but scientists agree that trans fat can be a killer. Using partially hydrogenated oil or trans fat is a way the food industry increases shelf life in foods, increases profits, and in turn puts your child in danger. If your child consumes trans fat, it can raise their bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower their "good" HDL levels. This equates to increased risk of heart disease and a variety of other ailments, including stroke and diabetes.
3. Soy and Soy Isolate
Soy is one of the sneakiest gimmicks the food industry uses to manipulate the consumer. Soy is not a health food -- it is used so companies can reduce the cost and nutritional content in your child's food.
The soybean itself is not the problem. The problem is the process in which soybeans are chemically engineered to withstand heavy doses of herbicides without killing the plant. In turn, your child is eating herbicides because you were possibly tricked into thinking soy was a healthy food.
Soy isolate is an ingredient parents should also be on the lookout for. According to The Soyfoods Association of America, “Soy protein isolate is a dry powder food ingredient that has been separated or isolated from the other components of the soybean."
Check labels of certain "healthy" foods for this phony ingredient. A disturbing thing about soy isolate is that is actually part of the makeup of products that successfully get consumers believing they are healthy, like protein bars, meal replacement shakes, and some dietary supplements.
NOTE: Unfermented soy is the "bad" soy; "fermented" soy (miso, tempeh, and natto) can have some health benefits.
Readers - Do you feel misled by nutrition labels? Did you find this blog helpful? Will you cut out these bad ingredients in your own diet? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Cara Castronuova is a fitness professional, trainer from NBC's "The Biggest Loser" Season 11, a champion boxer, and founder of the children's charity, Knockout Obesity, Inc. Cara is also founder of Camp Kid Warrior and Camp Teen Warrior, sleep away summer camps dedicated to helping kids lose weight and get fit. Cara is a "Harry Potter" fan, her favorite food is watercress soup, and she enjoys wearing makeup, or "war paint," when she boxes. Cara preaches empowerment through fitness and the fighting arts, and she has dedicated herself to helping kids get fit before they become sick.