Packaged foods are sometimes unavoidable—but these common additives are. Study ingredient lists and steer clear of products that include them.
1. Monosodium glutamate Some people report feeling poorly after eating MSG, experiencing symptoms like vomiting, headaches and an increased heart rate. This flavour enhancer lurks in kid-popular foods such as chips, instant noodle soups and crackers.
2. High-fructose corn syrup Added to tons of products, the sweetener has been linked to diabetes and obesity. In fact, a 2015 animal study by the University of Utah found that it's more toxic than table sugar. Researchers at UCLA also showed that eating large amounts of this sweetener slows the brain, affecting its ability to learn and retain info.
3. Artificial food colouring Dyes are only added to make food look more appealing, so of course they're found in kid-focused products including cereal, yogurt and microwave popcorn. Look for colour or a colour name and number (for example: yellow 6) in the ingredient list. Some research has linked food colourings with hyperactivity in children, while a study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found a connection between caramel colour (added to cola) and an increased risk of cancer.
4. Artificial sweeteners Kiddos should stay away from calorie-free sweeteners like acesulfame potassium, aspartame and sucralose, because they may replace nutritious ingredients. Meanwhile, sugar substitutes like sorbitol and mannitol have been known to cause digestive discomfort and loose bowels in some people.