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Too Much Sugar Can Be A Real Scare During Halloween

Oct. 27, 2010

Too much sugar can be real scare during Halloween, holiday seasons

By Dr. Bruce Weiss, market medical director, UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin

As we approach Halloween and the subsequent holiday season, a quick reminder of alternatives to candy and to monitor junk-food consumption.

It’s easy to visually compare samples of good vs. bad Halloween items. An informal survey of children’s preferences includes:

o Anything sour and gummy – Sour Patch Kids, worms;

o Anything sour and sticky – Laffy Taffy, Hot Tamales;

o Nerds/Skittles;

o Reese’s Pieces/M & Ms/Kisses;

o Nestle Crunch/Milky Way/Snickers/Almond Joy; and

o Tootsie rolls and pops.

Health alternatives would include:

o Sugar-free gum – sour or fruity;

o Smarties – fat free;

o Sugar-free Life Savers;

o Fruit Rollups or shapes;

o String cheese;

o Sealed packets of nuts/raisins/pretzels/crackers;

o Plastic spiders, jewelry, glow sticks;

o Temporary tattoos/stickers;

o Bubbles or small Play-doh;

o Coins; and

o Colored pencils.

Additional tips to consider for a fun and healthy Halloween:

• Be sure to serve a healthy filling dinner before trick or treating;

• Check nutrition labels – some candies are better than others;

• Buy small sizes – minis or fun packs; and

• Remember they are children and don’t need handfuls of candy.

Statistics show that junk-food consumption contributes to obesity. A child is not considered obese until the weight is at least 10 percent higher than what is recommended for the height and body type.

Obesity most commonly begins in childhood between the ages of 5 and 6, and during adolescence. Studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.

It’s important to remember that less than 1 percent of all obesity is caused by physical problems; lifestyle-related choices such as poor eating habits, overeating or binge eating can be personally controlled as well as exercising on a regular basis.

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