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Healthy snacks have negative effects on students

Nutrition labels of 'healthy' snacks next to each other. On the bottom is Wheat Thins, Fiber One lemon bars, Nutrigrain blueberry cereal bar, and Kashi cherry dark chocolate bars. On the top is Yoplait mixed berry yogurt and Dannon blueberry yogurt.

Nutrition labels of 'healthy' snacks next to each other. On the bottom is Wheat Thins, Fiber One lemon bars, Nutrigrain blueberry cereal bar, and Kashi cherry dark chocolate bars. On the top is Yoplait mixed berry yogurt and Dannon blueberry yogurt.

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Many of the snacks marketed as healthy, could actually have negative effects on students. The amount of sugar, artificial colors and flavors, chemicals, and additives in these products detrimentally affect student’s performance. The source of this problem is that students don’t know the ingredients in what they eating and assume it’s healthy because that’s how it’s been marketed. Anything from yogurt to cereal bars are actually packed with harmful ingredients and don’t contain much nutrition.

In a survey of Patterson Mill students, 35% said they are likely to eat yogurt during school lunches of after school while doing homework. Of that, 83% said that it was at least “mostly” healthy. In reality, brands of yogurt such as Yoplait, Activia, and Oikos contain about 16 grams of added sugar (69% of daily recommendation, Food Educate.com). Consuming large amounts of sugar at once like this will spike insulin levels. After this the blood sugar will drop leaving students feeling fatigued and sluggish. They will have a harder time concentrating, preventing them from performing their best. Activia also contains the chemical xanthan gum which can cause flu like symptoms (WebMD). The additive is made through fermenting the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris. This bacteria causes rot to form on vegetables, but is used (after fermentation) in the yogurt to thicken and stabilize it (Wise Geek.com)

The marketing used to convince people that a product is healthy distracts them from reading the nutrition label. On Yoplait’s original strawberry yogurt, the package has a picture of fresh strawberries and says, “Now more fruit” yet sugar is the second ingredient with strawberries being the third. Although they may have included more fruit in the product, it really is deceiving because the yogurt is packed with sugar and is not healthy. Oikos also uses marketing strategies to trick consumers into believing the product is healthy. Their logo is, “Fuel your hustle” implying that it will give people lots of energy. Truthfully, the massive amounts of sugar in it will actually have the opposite effect on students. Similarly, Activia uses the brand name to market their product as healthy. Activia sounds like active, which could lead students, especially athletes to believe it would be a smart and healthy choice.

41% of students said they eat crackers at or after school, making it the most popular snack among Patterson Mill students. It is known to many people that crackers are highly processed, yet they still do not realize the chemicals many companies add. Wheat Thins are just one example of a brand that adds BHT, a combination of two chemicals that is actually used in cosmetics and food. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) has been proven to cause hyperactivity in children (Quirky Science). Multigrain Club Crackers also contain nasty chemicals, like TBHQ. According to the National Library of Medicine, TBHQ can cause vision disturbances and neurotoxic effects like decreased memory, concentration, and reaction time. Students consuming this chemical on a regular basis could not even realize that it is making it harder for them to function at school. In order to be a successful student, kids need to have good memorization skills for tests and be able to concentrate on the content being taught. When consuming additives like BHT and TBHQ, students will not perform their best in school or out of school.

Due to the deceiving marketing of these products, many parents assume they are healthy and don’t read the ingredients on the nutrition label. Brands use their product name to advertise to customers how wholesome their snack is. For example, Wheat Thins sounds healthy because of the diction. Wheat is a well-known grain harvested on farms, hinting that the product may be less processed and more natural. As well, using the term “Thins” implicates it is a low calorie and healthy option. This marketing causes students to eat recklessly because they are not educated on the nutrition. Unfortunately, the result of this is detrimental effects on student’s health and performance.

75% of students who eat cereal and granola bars believe that they are nutritious. Many may be surprised to find out this is one of the worst things they could be eating. Cereal bars are marketed as quick, easy, and healthy snacks. This is appealing to many, especially students. Teenagers are always busy with homework, sports, and extracurricular activities. They have exhausting days, and therefore want to sleep in as late as possible. They grab something quick for breakfast or to toss in their lunch, rather than spend time making meals. Jayme Limpert, a Patterson Mill High School health teacher, believes that “We are all busy and companies thrive on that. They create products that are ‘healthy’ and quick to get your hands on.” Brands like Nutrigrain are packed with terrible ingredients. Their blueberry cereal bar contains artificial colorings and flavors, 12 grams of added sugar, and TBHQ.

Artificial colors can have many effects on children, such as hyperactivity and learning impairment. As well, artificial flavors can have short term effects like headaches and fatigue, but long term can contribute to depression (Eating Well). These products will not only affect a student’s health overall, but will directly impact their ability to succeed in school. Eating one bar contains 50% of the daily recommended amount of added sugar, causing the insulin to spike, and then blood sugar to drop leaving kids deprived of energy. To add to this, Nutrigrain cereal bars also contain the chemical TBHQ, which as previously mentioned can have lots of nasty effects. Fiber One bars also have unnatural and sickly chemicals. Their oats and peanut butter bar contains artificial colorings (yellow 5 & 6 lake, red 40 lake, blue 1 lake) and BHT. Just like in Wheat Thins, the Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) can cause hyperactivity, which would make it harder for students to concentrate and perform well on tests. “Nutrition is a large factor in determining student/human success… If a person lacks the fuel or is getting bad fuel there will be consequences.” said Jayme Limpert.

The marketing of cereal and granola bars is by far the most misleading. They use healthful sounding brand names and slogans and they hide their toxic ingredients under deceiving names. Kashi is a popular brand that distributes many products, one of which being “Non-GMO Project Verified bars,” as their website states. This includes their chewy nut butter bars, GOLEAN® plant powered bars, crunchy granola and seed bars, and more. The names of their products make them seem nutritious and healthy, but are they really? When first glancing at the nutrition label, the bars seem legitimate but Kashi bars actually contain some pretty nasty ingredients. The second and third ingredient in most of their bars in brown rice syrup and dried brown rice syrup. Brown rice syrup is simply rice that is processed and broken down into sugar. This sweetener will spike glucose levels, which could cause fatigue and headaches. According to Healthline, brown rice syrup can also be contaminated with arsenic, also known a poisonous substance to humans. Products sweetened with brown rice syrup increase traces of arsenic up to 20 times. Brands like Kashi market their products to be healthy by masking sugar with a different name, and since consumers aren’t educated they fall for this.

Students are fueling their bodies with the wrong foods, ones filled with chemicals and almost no nutrients. Fatigue, headaches, lack of concentration, and shortened reaction times are just some of the consequences of eating such processed foods. These effects can severely impact academic performance because students aren’t in their top condition. They may not even realize how much they are being effected, because they have eaten this way their whole life. By eating a more natural and plant based diet, students can have more energy and perform better in school. Freshman Grace Tasel said that, “after cutting out processed foods and focusing my diet on a variety of organic ones, I felt a spike in my energy level during the day. I even feel like it’s helped me do better in school because I have felt more motivated.”

Other students can perform better in school too by paying attention to nutrition labels and staying away from ingredients like preservatives, artificial colorings and flavors, and other chemicals. Students should make sure to look beyond brand slogans and names and find out if the product is really healthy. By limiting the amount of added sugar consumed, students will feel a lot more energized. One of the reasons pre-packaged foods are so popular is because they are tasty and quick to grab, but often people forget about foods like fruit and nuts. Bananas, apples, and tangerines are some examples of fruit that are easy to eat on the go and are packed with nutrition. By eating a healthier diet, students will be more energized, have better health, and perform better in school.

 

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