Laffy Taffy is bad for you. It's sugar with artificial dyes and processed ingredients, all of which can negatively impact your health.
Laffy Taffy is rich with sugars, both natural and added - five and a half tablespoons worth. The sugars do damage to your teeth and gums by feeding the bacteria in your mouth. Some of the sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream; they give you a quick boost followed by a crash. Others are broken down in the liver, where they're converted into fat for storage. Over time, that fat can put you at risk of hypertension, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Your body breaks down sugar by producing insulin. Too much sugar over time, and that process may lead to insulin sensitivity or diabetes. There's no dietary fiber in Laffy Taffy to blunt the effects of that sugar.
Laffy Taffy uses artificial colors, for now. There's no scientific consensus on whether these dyes are unsafe, but research has shown they may disrupt the endocrine system, accelerate tumor growth, increase cancer risk and cause hyperactivity in children. Under pressure from the public and consumer advocacy groups, Laffy Taffy's parent company Nestle has already phased out artificial colors from their chocolate candies and pizza products. Gummy and sour candies are presumably next. So far, however, they have not announced that they are discontinuing artificial colors in those products.
Laffy Taffy contains hydrogenated oils, which is a fancy term for trans fat. Too much trans fat and the level of cholesterol in your blood will climb. That puts you at risk for a whole range of heart conditions. Hydrogenated oils have further been linked to neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
There are other food-like additives in Laffy Taffy that bear closer scrutiny and are the hallmarks of a highly processed product. It contains diglycerides, a stabilizer that often signposts processed food. It also contains the vague catch-all "artificial flavor;" a flavoring agent synthesized in a lab that could be pretty much anything. Both of these ingredients are good rules of thumb for foods to reduce your consumption of or avoid entirely.
Possible long-term side effects
- insulin resistance
- heart disease
- endocrine disorders
- neurological disorders