Monday, October 31, 2011

The scary truth about Halloween candy, calories and kids


This Halloween, the vampires, ghosts, and Disney princesses that stop by your door clamoring for treats will be gathering a scary amount of candy – with public health specialists estimating that kids will bring home up to 7,000 calories worth of loot after trick or treating this year. To put that into perspective, you could eat 29 pounds of green grapes and consume the same amount of calories. This is truly frightening news when you consider the growing obesity epidemic facing our kids, as well as the heart health and diabetes risks associated with high-fat, HFC-laden Halloween treats.

The funny thing is that while Halloween candy is shrinking, we seem to be eating more of it, one individually-wrapped bite at a time. Studies show that when products are put into smaller packages and there are many of those small packages available, people eat significantly more than if they were presented with multiple full-sized candies.  So that bag of fun-sized Snickers on your desk is probably worse for you than a case of full-sized candy bars.

If you’re still in doubt about what candy might be the safest bet if you’re watching your sodium or sugar intake, the Huffington Post lets you test your knowledge of Halloween nutrition (or lack thereof). You can also check out FitSugar’s 100-calorie gallery to help you pick a healthy portion when you do decide to indulge.
In light of some of these terrifying nutritional facts, consider handing out something a little healthier to the tricksters this year. Apples are a classic choice for the health-conscious neighbor; pretzels, baked potato chips, and raisins are other healthy treats. You could encourage the little goblins’ creative side by handing out small tubs of Play-Do or other craft supplies. In fact, there are tons of non-food options to hand out – temporary tattoos, bubbles, crayons, bouncy balls, and stickers . . . the list goes on.

Another tip for parents I like: set a limit for how many pieces of candy children can eat each day _ and stick to it. 

The good news? No matter what you’re handing out, trick or treating door-to-door means a lot of walking, which can help burn off some of that candy corn.

If you’re concerned about the safety of the candy your children bring home, be sure to check out our Halloween candy safety tips on our Website homepage.

Trick or treat with care, B’more!

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