They are tasty and often viewed as being a better alternative to eating sweets for children but they are also full of salt, fat and sugar and are very addictive!
Crisps are NOT a healthy alternative to more sugary, sweet snacks in my opinion and apart from helping to make us fat, studies now suggest they may contain high levels of carcinogenic chemicals.
The cancer issue notwithstanding, scientists have found similarities in the brains of crisp eaters and drug addicts whereby when shown pictures of crisps their brains responded by being more active in the reward and addiction centres of their brains. It is thought that molecular triggers in crisps are responsible for triggering these reward centres.
The problem of addiction lies in the texture of the crisp, which although crisp when you bite them, the texture quickly changes to become a soggy substance in the mouth and anything that melts quickly apparently encourages the brain to think that there are no calories in it so you want to keep eating more.
The desire to keep eating crisps has led to a New England Journal of Medicine article that studied obesity in 120,877 people. As a result they said that crisps are “the largest single contributor to the US obesity epidemic”. This is they think due to the fact that the refined carbohydrates in a packet of crisps causes an imbalance in blood glucose and insulin levels which leads to a feeling of hunger and so we eat more food during the day and consequently get fatter.
In 2006 the British Heart Foundation said that if we eat just one packet of crisps per day, it has the same effect on our bodies as drinking 5 litres of cooking oil in a year!
Now a study conducted by Fera Science on behalf of campaign group Changing Markets says that eating crisps could cause cancer. This study was conducted by government-backed scientists and it has found that crisps contain high levels of acrylamide, a known carcinogen.
Some crisps were found to contain more than three times the recommended amount of acrylamide according to European food standards.
According to EU benchmarks crisps should not contain more than 750 micrograms per kilogram of acrylamide. Those crisps with the highest levels were found to contain 2486 micrograms per kilogram!
In total nearly one in five potato crisp varieties sampled from major retail food outlets in the UK contained high levels of acrylamide.
Limits on the levels of acrylamide in manufactured food was discussed by European Commission and Member States just this year, and was voted on in June.
Nusa Urbancic, an acrylamide expert at Changing Markets, said: “Eating crisps with high levels of acrylamide increases the risk of cancer for all consumers and it represents a specific concern for children.
“The FSA concluded that children are 2 to 3 times more at risk for cancer due to dietary exposure to acrylamide. We are convinced that all companies should be doing whatever is in their power to reduce the levels of this carcinogen in our food.
“This is perfectly feasible and the industry has developed measures to do this already 10 years ago. We do not understand why companies do not put this into practice consistently.”
Crisp manufacturers have replied that there is no evidence of increased risk of developing cancer through raised levels of acrylamide.
An FSA spokesperson said: “We are committed to reducing acrylamide in food, working with partners and European Commission to find workable solutions. The FSA has been actively supporting the food industry in its development of codes of practice on acrylamide reduction for use throughout the food chain. The approach will require manufacturers to act on acrylamide or face enforcement action.”
A spokesman for the Snack, Nut and Crisp Manufacturers’ Association said “The study is a snapshot survey (92 samples over a one-month period in 2017) which, if shared with the European Food Standards Authority, will help to inform the review of the indicative values as part of the Commission’s current proposals. However, this data should not be read in isolation, and should be considered alongside other data collection activities. For example, a recent peer-reviewed study of manufacturers’ own measurements of acrylamide levels, covering a total of 40,455 samples of fresh sliced potato crisps from 20 European countries over a period of 10 years, showed a clear and significant downward trend for reduction of mean levels of acrylamide. These decreases have continued in recent years across the sector”.
My opinion is that as with everything we eat, if we eat as much fresh food as possible and only eat packaged foods sparingly then there should be no problem but it is when we eat too much processed food of any type and regularly that our bodies can suffer.