Trick or Treat ... or Cavities?
Use Halloween as a time to teach your children important lessons about nutrition and dental care.
Of course, nutrition and weight came up in any discussion of
children having unlimited access to candy.
"I would never tell kids they can't eat their Halloween
candy," says Kilfoil. "But I would recommend that parents start telling
their kids a few days before Halloween that they can have one or two pieces of
their candy after meals."
Kilfoil says Halloween provides a good opportunity for parents
and children to talk about eating right and maintaining a healthy weight.
"A lot of our children are becoming obese or are at risk
for obesity, and holiday times too often send the message that overeating is
OK," she says.
Obesity is the leading cause of pediatric high blood pressure
and type 2 diabetes. The CDC reported in 2000 that 15% of American children
aged 6 to 19 are overweight, up from 11% from a survey conducted from 1988 to
1994. The prevalence of obesity in the young varies by ethnic group. Childhood
obesity is more common amongh African-American and Hispanic kids than among
Kilfoil says that one Halloween-candy strategy parents can try
is to go through their children's haul and try to weed out the candy that has
high fat content.
"Candy that is all sugar isn't all that much better, but at
least it has fewer calories," she says.
Parents need to be as concerned about their children's weight
as they would be about a food allergy.
"The message we want children to take away is that
moderation is good," she says. "It's fine to have your candy, but have
it with meals. You don't have to eat to excess to enjoy the holiday."