Did you know that an average child would have to play full-court basketball for 14.5 hours to burn off candy calories?
So, has that bag of Halloween-themed candy “minis” purchased in early October made it this far yet? If so, while you’re showing great willpower, you may want to think twice before dispersing it to the ghouls and goblins who show up on your doorstep Halloween night.
Nearly 17 percent of children in the United States ages 2-19 are obese, and 31 percent are overweight or obese, according to the American Heart Association. Holidays in which candy plays a big part in the celebration do not help obesity rates. Though Halloween alone is not going to be a major overall contributor to our children’s health, any behaviors they learn CAN have an effect.
Based on the nutrition facts for popular candies handed out this time of year, the average child collects between 3,500 and 7,000 calories on Halloween night. A 100 pound child who consumed 7,000 calories would have to walk for nearly 44 hours or play full-court basketball for 14.5 hours to burn those calories off.
Instead of handing out calorie-laden treats, the American Heart Association encourages giving out non-candy items, like plastic bat rings or spooky stickers.
Other ideas that are more beneficial to a child’s health are to get together in your neighborhood or community and host a large event instead of trick-or-treating. You could include costume contests and other social aspects that will make it fun but not as unhealthy as collecting a sack full of high calorie sugary foods.
If trick-or-treating is a must, turn it into an exercise game with fun gadgetry. Walking is an aerobic exercise so make sure to try and get 30 minutes of walking in. By having kids wear a pedometer, you can make a contest out of who takes the most steps.
Once that candy comes home, parents need to hold on to it and ration it to the kids. Moderation is the key.
Consider these tips to keep your ghosts and goblins a little healthier along the way…
- Feed them first: make sure your kids are fueled up before they go trick-or-treating with a healthy snack or meal. A full belly will curb their desire to overload on candy.
- Pillow cases are for pillows: give your kids smaller treat bags like recycled grocery bags so they won’t bring home too many sweets – keep the pillow cases and trash bags at home!
- Surprise them with health, not horror: be the healthy house on the block by offering treats like pre-packaged snack-sized dried fruit, pretzels or baby carrots.
- Give them treasures for treats: hand out boxes of crayons, stickers, colored pencils, erasers, Halloween tattoos or rubber spiders. Check out Let’s pARTy NOLA for great ideas.
- Patrol those treats: after inspecting all treats to make sure they’re safe, remind your kids to eat their treats in moderation, so they last longer. Store the bag in a high but public place so you won’t be tempted to snack on the candy either.