- Posted October 29, 2009 by
las vegas, Nevada
This iReport is part of an assignment:
iReport for CNN
How to Have a Healthy, Not Haunted Halloween
Description by: Connie Bennett - author of the book SUGAR SHOCK!
Why is Halloween a Spooky Sugar Overload Day? Why are people “forgetting” that American kids are heavier than ever? Can Halloween be fun without all the sugar?
“Halloween can be a fun, but healthy holiday. It doesn’t have to be a Sugar Overload Day,” insists journalist, health counselor and former sugar addict Connie Bennett, author of the book SUGAR SHOCK! How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life—And How You Can Get Back on Track. (www.SugarShock.com)
Learn some Spooky Stats about America’s darkest holiday and obesity:
• Americans are expected to spend about $1.89 billion (nearly $2 billion) for candies. (That’s less than the $2.12 billion projected for costume sales. In all, Americans will fork over an estimated $6 billion for Halloween goodies, according to industry research firm IBISWorld.)
• On Halloween, everyone “forgets” that about one third of American children and teens are overweight or obese.
• Children’s obesity in the United States has soared by a whopping 100 percent between 1980 and the mid-1990s.
• Being overweight can lead to serious health problems for youngsters, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and orthopedic problems.
• Children who weight too much also tend to suffer from low self-esteem.
On or Around Halloween (“Sugar Overload Day,” according to Bennett):
• “Halloween may turn your kids into `Sugar Brats,’” predicts Bennett, noting that the average youngster will wolf down roughly 10 to 50 teaspoons of sugar and 300 to 600 or more calories. In the days or weeks that follow, the typical kid pigs out on leftover candies, too.
• Many of the candies passed out on Halloween are full of sugar and corn syrup, as well as sodium and dye. (For instance, eating 22 pieces of candy corn gives you 140 calories, 75 mg. of sodium and 31 grams of sugar (7.75 tsp.), as well as zero protein and zero dietary fiber.
• After gorging on candies, your child or your neighbor’s kid may get tired and wired, moody, depressed, unfocused, headachy and angry. He or he also may have develop tummy troubles.
• Adults are no better than their kids. Some 40 percent of adults stash a few pieces of candy before Oct. 31, according to the National Confectioners Association. And nearly one in five adults find a Halloween celebration without candy to “the the spookiest thing of all this October!,” according to the candy association.
About Halloween’s Harrowing Effects
• “Halloween, with its unhealthy emphasis on sugar, `teaches’ kids to equate sugar with fun and comfort,” Bennett contends. “Over time, seeking solace in sweets could cut children’s lives short.”
• “Halloween paves the way for children and adults alike to eat too many, processed, sugary “treats” year-round,” she adds.
• The average American consumes more than 150 pounds each year of sucrose, high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners, which can lead to more than 100 health woes, from heart disease to cancer.
Less Sugar Means Healthier Kids
• “Our nation’s kids will have more energy, be happier, find it an easier to concentrate and maybe even get better grades if they eat less sugar on a regular basis,” Bennett says.
• “Halloween is the ideal time to boost awareness about the upswing in obesity and type 2 diabetes among kids,” Bennett says.
• Consuming fewer sweets and refined carbohydrates means that all of us—children and adults alike—could lose weight and reduce our risk of getting type 2 diabetes, according to research studies from Harvard, Yale, etc.
• Even the American Heart Association recently recognized sugar’s dangers and recommended that everyone reduce their intake of added sugars. “Sugar has no nutritional value other than to provide calories,” nutrition professor Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D. and University of Vermont associate provost said at the time.
5 Tips to Have a Healthy, not Harrowing Halloween from Connie Bennett:
1) Pass out non-sugary “treats” such as small packets of nuts, cheese, raisins and shelled sunflower seeds. (Make sure that you tell trick-or-treaters to stay away from foods to which they’re allergic.)
2) Give your kids a healthy dinner at home before they go trick-or-treating. This means plenty of protein (such as a piece of fish or free-range chicken), quality carbs (like a salad, vegetables, a sweet potato and a small portion of brown rice), and smart fats (such as olive oil drizzled on top). By powering up with protein, quality carbs and superior fats, your children and your neighbor’s kids may eat less candies.
3) Choose fun, non-sugary alternatives that you can find at drug stores and 99 cent stores. For instance, you can give out::
• Glow-in-the-dark insects, skeletons or spooky fingers
• Rubber worms or other animal figures
• Plastic key chains
• Halloween-themed stickers, pencils, temporary tattoos, or other toys
• Holiday-themed stickers, chalk, crayons, colored pencils, pens or animal-shaped erasers
• Rubber worms, spiders, or other creepy figures
• Non-Halloween-themed party favors such as hair clips, hair bands, scrunchies, plastic bracelets and rings (for girls).
• Party favors such as engine whistles, kazoos and key chains. (For boys or girls).
Kids love receiving toys, according to Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University deputy director Marlene B. Schwartz, Ph.D., who headed up research, which found that half of 3- to 14-year-old trick-or-treaters preferred non-sugary favors over candies.
4) Encourage your kids to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF to raise money for water, education, medicine, etc. for less fortunate children around the world. Order your own special boxes or create your own by visiting www.trickortreatforunicef.org or calling 1-800-FOR-KIDS.
5) When Halloween is over, find an area dentist that offers a Halloween candies buy-back program where your kids bring in their sugary loot and receive money or toys in exchange.
Video by: Chris Morrow
follow Chris on Twitter: www.twitter.com/morrowchris