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Be Aware of Halloween Sugar Scares

By Heather Zimmerman, M.D.

Children eating candy on Halloween.

Boo! The time is here for another round of costumes and pumpkin bags stuffed with yummy treats! This year, make sure to set a good example by limiting your child's intake of sugary sweets. The American Heart Association recommends 3–4 teaspoons of sugar per day for children and with childhood obesity rates in the United States currently more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents, controlling and eating a healthy amount of sweets is beneficial.

Boys Town Pediatrics suggests a few CANDY safety tips:

Control sugar intake. Limit your child to eating only a few pieces a day vs. eating the candy all at once. Be sure to set a good example and control your cravings too. If you know your child may want to eat more candy for the night, make sure your child eats healthier meals during the day. Remember moderation is key.

Add adventure to stay active. Make sure your child is actively walking from house to house, hide scary surprises at your house that will keep children jumping and moving and encourage your child to invite their friends so they can actively pursue and enjoy their adventures together. Staying active will not only keep your child healthy, it will hopefully counter the added sugary candy calories.

Never eat candy without brushing your teeth afterwards! Brushing your teeth helps remove food and plaque that forms bacteria. Dental hygiene is important and this is a great time to teach your children about the benefits of brushing those little vampire teeth.

Don't eat candy that is expired. Most Halloween candy stored in room temperatures lasts around 6 months. Also, make sure to avoid anything homemade that is not factory-wrapped or looks like it has been opened.

Your candy can be used in all sorts of fun ways. From crafts, trading candy for other incentives such as books or a movie night with the family, donating candy is always a great way to give back. Candy can be and shipped out to different organizations such as Operation Gratitude (sends more than 100,000 care packages annually to U.S. troops stationed overseas and to children in other countries) and Halloween Candy Buy Back (which also benefits Operation Gratitude). Many local dentist offices have their own candy buy-back programs as well. Encouraging and challenging your family and friends to donate leftover candy feels so much better than a tummy ache!

The best part about Halloween is it happens once a year so make sure to have a spooktacular time with your friends and family, get creative with costumes, and watch out for scary monsters trying to over eat their share sugary treats!