A Flamin’ Hot Reason You Can’t Eat Just One

October 12, 2012 — In a front page story, the Chicago Tribune spotlights the nutritional dangers and potentially addictive nature of a kid-favorite snack, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. In the article, reporter Monique Eng interviews researchers and other nutrition experts about the unique attraction this particular snack has with young people and the concerns it’s causing in the scientific world. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, a snack that is targeted to urban convenience stores, is considered a hyperpalatable food. A processed food such as this is designed to elicit brain responses similar to those created by certain drugs in addicted individuals.

"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," says Ashley Gearhart, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Michigan. "Going along with that, we are seeing those classic signs of addition, the cravings and loss of control and preoccupation with it." Gearhardt thinks Frito-Lay, the maker of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, should be doing something about it. "Once the evidence has come out that they have created a substance that is capable of hijacking the neural system…then I feel like it falls under their ethical obligation to ask how this should affect the way they market and push the product." 

You can read the entire Chicago Tribune story here.