You know what’s spooky? The amount of candy and sugar consumed on Halloween!
In my research, I did not find many rigorous Halloween candy-based scientific studies out there. But retail and other industry reports, suggest the average trick-or-treating kid can consume around three cups of sugar (or about 7,000 calories of candy!) on Halloween.
For context: That’s 675 grams of sugar, or the same as downing almost 170 sugar cubes. Yum.
The American Heart Association (AHA) says kids ages 2 to 18 should have less than 25 grams of sugar or 6 teaspoons of added sugar for a healthy heart. Which is approximately 4 small pieces. Not entirely realistic on Halloween, right?
“Two or three days of really excessive excess isn’t necessarily a make-or-break for long-term health unless you already suffer from a serious medical condition,” explained Lisa Randall, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator for Providence Healthcare. “A much larger problem is general sugar consumption trends in the U.S. New obesity studies reveal that one in three adults is prediabetic.”
For those who are pre-diabetic, metabolizing sugar is already a problem. So when they eat even more sugar on Halloween, that can be an issue.
“It’s not hard to see why. A growing collection of research suggests that excess added sugar in the diet has strong links to cancer, and is already strongly tied with obesity, diabetes, and heart and other deadly cardiovascular diseases,” Randall said. “Going all out on Halloween is probably fine — as long as people have a more balanced day-to-day approach.”
On Halloween, Randall said you should stay away from carbohydrates at dinner. Kids (and adults raiding their kids’ candy stashes later) will get their carbs later.
Randall said even though our bodies are not designed to metabolize sugar, we can still enjoy the holiday.
“Halloween is a holiday- we look at it as a treat, its tradition, culture and all of that – so Halloween is important for that reason – and adding sugar to what we are already doing in one day is not a terrible sin,” she explained. “In general, we eat too much sugar despite Halloween, and then on Halloween it’s just magnified.
Randall also reminded people to make sure their kids brush their teeth well before they go to bed, especially the littlest ones!