Several schools are either banning or attempting to ban Flamin' Hot Cheetos from being sold or provided on their premises, saying they are too high in fat and salt and can be addictive.
A health teacher from a middle school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, recently sent home a letter to parents asking them to leave the snacks at home, due to the fact that they have no nutritional value and often "take the place of a lunch, lead to sharing more germs with other students and caused red fingerprints that created a mess for janitors".
Many schools are jumping on board in an effort to rid their hallways of junk food (and fingerprints), attributing to certain snacks the same side effects one gets from an illegal substance.
"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," said Ashley Gearhardt, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Michigan. "Going along with that, we are seeing those classic signs of addiction, the cravings and loss of control and preoccupation with it."
While it's still unclear why Flamin' Hot Cheetos are being targeted--other than their extreme popularity with school-age kids--school officials say it's all part of a crackdown on childhood obesity.
"We don't allow candy, and we don't allow Hot Cheetos," said Rita Exposito, principal of Jackson Elementary School in Pasadena, California. "We don't encourage other chips, but if we see Hot Cheetos, we confiscate them — sometimes after the child has already eaten most of them. It's mostly about the lack of nutrition."
Image: John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune