Halloween candy: bad for your child's health?

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – This weekend is Halloween and whether you celebrate on Saturday or Sunday, you can expect something horrifying in your child's goody bags.  We're not talking razor blades in apples, but something even spookier!  Census reports show American's ate almost 24 pounds of candy each last yea and a lot of that happens on or around Halloween!

"Halloween in general for kids is a candy fest," said Dr. Shane Speights.

Kids go door to door getting it by the handfuls.

"It's one day out of the year that basically they get to loot up all the candy and start gorging themselves on it," said Speights.

But is all the candy the root of all evil when it comes to childhood obesity?

"Let's not blame childhood obesity on one day out of the year.  This is something that's happening everyday and it's not just due to Halloween," said Speights.

Doctors say we have changed what and how much we eat!

"We are consuming more and more sugars and carbohydrates that are contributing to obesity, specifically childhood obesity," said Speights.

"Halloween should be the exception, but not the rule," said Dr. David Matthews.

As you're separating your child's candy on Halloween night one thing you need to be aware of is the calorie intake.  With different candy bar's hitting 100 to 200 calories, your child could consume about 1,000 calories in one sitting.  A lot of pediatricians see waiting rooms full of tummy aches the day after Halloween from too much candy!

"Probably should put a limit of about 4 or 5 pieces the night they came home.  Try to help them figure out how to spread it out and make it last," said Matthews.

"It's nice to go ahead and pace them.  Lets not let little Johnny go ahead and take all the snickers bars out and eat them all tonight," said Speights.

The other side of Halloween is fear to let children walk house to house and that could be contributing to the problem.

"They're in SUV's going from house to house and they don't even have to use any energy that night," said Matthews.

While Halloween alone isn't to blame, it is a blatant example of what we are eating on any given day.

"The chronic overuse of sweets and treats is costing us big time," said Matthews.

There are alternatives you can hand out on Halloween instead of high calorie treats.  If you want to give food you can give out pretzels, nuts, sugar free gum, granola bars, pre-packaged carrot sticks or other nutritious items.  You can also hand out non-food items like crayons, bubbles, pencils, or note pads.

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