There’s a new report that says even though some food additives might be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that doesn’t necessarily mean they are safe for kids. The study says that says all the chemicals usually found in pre-packed food that children love have chemicals that interfere with children’s hormones.
The new study highlights the growing issue of additives found on many ingredients list. These chemicals are not only harmful, but they might also lead to problems with a child’s development and obesity. There is a growing number of chemicals that are a cause for concern, but are used in many items found in the grocery store nonetheless. Bisphenols like BPA, for example, are used in plastics and the lining of metal cans. They can act like estrogen in the body, affecting onset of puberty, decreasing fertility, increasing body fat and affecting the nervous and immune systems. Phthalates can affect male genital development, increase childhood obesity and contribute to heart disease.
Also, many artificial food coloring has been associated with worsened attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Nitrates, meanwhile, can interfere with thyroid hormone production, and have been linked with gastrointestinal and nervous system cancers.
Leonardo Trasande, the study’s lead author, notes that all humans are impacted by chemicals. But it’s children who hurt the most. He told Health Day in an interview, "Pound for pound, (children) eat more food, they have higher levels of exposure compared to us adults. Their organs are still developing in various ways, such that effects on that development can be permanent and lifelong."
In addition, chemicals used in packaging and in processed meats, among other things, can also lead to puberty issues and other health problems. Many health advocates are calling for urgently needed reforms, more rigorous testing and regulation of food additives.
Thankfully, there are a few things that parents can do to help reduce or better yet eliminate the amount of pre-processed foods and the chemicals that children absorb on a daily basis. The first step is to eat more fresh or frozen produce whenever possible. Use glass or stainless steel containers and avoid using plastics in the microwave or dishwasher. Also, make sure that everyone in your family wash their hands thoroughly before and after handling food and clean all fruits and vegetables that cannot be pealed.