Halloween – The True Cost and Ways to Make it Healthy and Fun

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The ghosts and goblins will be walking the streets today, carrying their special Halloween treat bags.  What they carry in those bags is far more scary than they, for it has the potential to rob them of their most precious gift…their health.

Americans spend close to two billion dollars every year on Halloween candy!   That's $2,000,000,000!!!  That's how much it would cost to send 20,000 students to a decent college for 4 years, or to feed 303,030 kids in Ghana, Africa for a year.  How many hurricane or earthquake victims can be assisted with $2 billion?   What about the hidden costs of Halloween?  The dentist bills, doctor bills, lost productivity and distress that ensues as a result of gorging on candy every October 31st  add up to millions.

The cost of Halloween on our health and the health of our kids is staggering. Since 1980, obesity rates in children have tripled. Today, 13 million children are obese .  The amount of sugar consumed at halloween and throughout the year contributes not only to obesity but to serious debilitating disease, like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Annual obesity-related medical costs are estimated to be $168 billion.

The ingredients in typical Halloween confections are scarier that the costumes.  In addition to sugar and health damaging oils, they are filled with artificial colors and preservatives.  And, according to Pure Fun Candy,  producers of an organic line of cane juice sweetened candy colored with vegetable and fruit extracts, the FDA doesn't monitor artificial colors, flavors and preservatives or even require that they be tested. Yet  research published in the Lancet, one of the most respected medical journals,  concludes that food additives affect  brain chemistry in children, resulting in hyperactivity and ADHD like behavior. Lancet 2007, Nov 3:370(9598)1560-7 “Food Additives & Hyperactive Behavior in 3 Year Old and 8/9 Year Old Children in the Community: a Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo Controlled Trial.” McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, Crumpler D, Dalen L, Grimshaw K, Kitchin E, Lok K, Porteous L, Prince E, Sonuga-Barke E, Warner JO, Stevenson J. School of Psychology, Dept. of Child Health, University of Southampton, UK.  300 Children Studied.

This research prompted Wal-Mart in the UK to ban these additives in children’s foods. Yet American kids continue to consume them in record amounts, especially at Halloween.

So what's your plan for keeping yourself and your family safe this Halloween?  Here are some suggestions, taken in part from Healthy Halloween Treats

1- Pull your spending power away from the $2 billion spent on candy.  Hand out trinkets like pencils and pads, party favor toys, boxes of raisins or quarters.  If you feel you MUST give candy, try some of the  Pure Fun Candy organic products.  There's a 3 page list of healthy alternatives in the book  Healthy Halloween Treats.

2- Make your own Healthy Halloween Treats, using fresh,whole, raw organic ingredients and natural sweeteners like date paste and dried fruit powders.

3- Swap the candy your kids collect for trinkets, money or toys.  The book Healthy Halloween Treats has pages of suggestions for new Halloween rituals that the kids find fun.

4- Teach your kids to Trick or Treat for Unicef, or another charity of your choice.  It will teach them the magic of giving.

I'm off to make some caramel coated apples and chocolate covered strawberries for my kids.

Enjoy a  Healthy Halloween safe from the scariest part of Halloween – the candy!

Love, Health and Happy Halloween

Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo

Post below  in the comments area one thing you plan to do to make Halloween safer and healthier for you and your family.

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  1. Diane

    So many believe it is innocent fun. Thanks for speaking out on this!

  2. Diane

    Regarding your Idea #4 .. kids may be able to get enthused with giving chickens & such: http://www.gfa.org/gift/


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