Health scare of the week
Food chemicals harming kids?
The leading U.S. pediatricians’ group has issued a stark warning about food additives and food-packaging materials, cautioning that many of the chemicals used in these products have never been properly tested and could pose a health risk to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics cited mounting scientific evidence that “direct additives,” such as artificial flavorings and colorings, as well as “indirect additives” that leak into food from plastic and other packaging may interfere with the body’s hormone system. That disruption can cause increased risk of obesity and other health problems. Children are more vulnerable to these chemicals than adults because their organs are still developing, and because “pound for pound, they eat more food,” lead author Leonardo Trasande tells HealthDay.com. The AAP identified several particularly harmful chemicals: nitrates and nitrites, which are used as preservatives, especially in meat products; phthalates and perchlorates, which appear in plastic packaging; and bisphenols, used in the lining of many metal food cans. The pediatricians’ group recommends limiting exposure to these chemicals by avoiding canned goods, using wax paper rather than plastic wrap, and never microwaving plastic containers.