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Hot Snacks Damaging To Teens' Health?

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POSTED: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 12:09am

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 3:40pm

EL PASO- Teenagers love eating hot chips but they can be damaging to their young bodies.

Ask any teenager and they'll say they love hot snacks. It makes no difference if they know how bad it is for their young stomachs.

"All junk food is bad, but it's delicious," said student Christian Bastidas.

Newschannel 9 caught up with high school students during lunch, doing what they often do, skipping lunch for a menu that contains one entrée -- chips.

"Sometimes I don't have time to eat so I'll just grab a bag of chips," said student Itzel Ortega

Spicy snacks can be found everywhere and unfortunately, a hot diet can lead to serious health problems.

"I thought I was gonna die," said Dalilah Miranda.

"I was scared when I first saw her, especially when I saw them give her morphine, and I realized how much pain she had been in," said grandmother, Lupe Miranda.

Dalilah, 15, is an active teenager. She is a member of her high school softball team and in the band. But Dalilah was eating so many Hot Cheetos, doctors said they ignited a health scare about two years ago.

"It was really bad. I remember I even cried,” Dalilah said. “It was that kind of pain that you could just scream."

After several visits to the doctor's office and emergency rooms, she ended up in the hospital.

"She was in so much pain, he just wrote up an order for the hospital and ended up in the hospital for a couple of days on morphine," said Lupe Miranda.

Her grandmother, Lupe Miranda said doctors ran numerous tests and came back with shocking news that Dalilah's spicy diet nearly burned a hole in her stomach.

"They sent her home with ulcer medication," said Lupe Miranda. "They were the beginnings of an ulcer. She's never needed it again. It was just that really bad episode."

Dalilah was on medication for several months and now she's doing fine. She even stopped the hot habit, for a while.

"I stayed away from them for a while but then I thought I could start eating them again but then I think about it, 'No I have to stop,'" Dalilah said. "I guess I always think about what happened in the hospital so I can keep it at a limit."

Dr. Gilberto Gomez with Paso Del Norte Pediatrics said he tells his patients to limit their consumption of hot snacks.

"Limit their intake of junk food including Hot Cheetos and if it's causing irritation to their stomach lining,” Gomez said. “If they're complaining of abdominal pain, they need to stop eating that."

Dr. Gomez said he's seen many young patients suffering from the effects. Many are treated in his office, but others need a trip to the emergency room. He said one big factor is the ingredients.

"There's no chili powder in there. There's a lot of chemicals, food coloring in there,” Dr. Gomez said. “Anything that irritates the stomach lining can cause damage there and eventually lead to ulcers."

Dr. Gomez said parents can prevent the hot food hazard by observing their child's eating habits and limit their consumption of spicy chips.

"Children don't know any better,” said Dr. Gomez. “They love the Hot Cheetos. They're pretty addicting from what I hear. The more you eat, the more irritation you can cause and eventually it can lead to a problem that can lead to hospitalization."

It's a message Dalilah now shares with other teens.

"I even told some of my friends what I went through but they don't know unless it happens to them," Dalilah said. "I don't think anybody would want to go through what I did."

Comments News Comments

Ulcer-causing snacks should not only be the concern but zero nutritional value as well. Hot cheetos or any other junk food contain nothing but empty calories, artificial coloring, refined sugars, lard (nacho cheese), etc. Schools should stop selling these "treats" except for Fridays so that students don't resent the healthy change. They could instead be encouraged to eat fresh veggies and fruits. Cafeterias and snack bars should substitute cheetos for cucumbers with lime and chilly quickly!!!

I am glad NewsChannel 9 addressed this health issue. My son attends Riverside Elementary (Sunland Park, NM). The school principal, Mr. Sanchez, not only condones poor eating habits in his school, he pushes students to eat Hot Cheetos covered in nacho cheese! The "treat" is sold to students during lunch and after school. It is a constant battle to make my son understand why he must not eat the chips covered in cheese, wether or not he eats his lunch. I hope NewsChannel 9 investigates.

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