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Expert: Too Much Sugar at Halloween is No Treat

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Kids will consume as much as three cups of sugar on Halloween. (menstatic/morguefile)
Kids will consume as much as three cups of sugar on Halloween. (menstatic/morguefile)
 By Mona ShandContact
October 30, 2017

LANSING, Mich. — As goblins and ghouls prepare to hit the streets for trick-or-treating, health experts say it's important to think about just how much sugar they're consuming on the holiday and every day.

Added sugar is hiding in many of the processed foods and beverages kids and adults eat regularly, with Americans taking in an estimated 20 teaspoons of it per day - more than five times the recommended amount. Stacy Sawyer, senior director of communications at the American Heart Association in Michigan, said when you throw in Halloween goodies, the health effects can be quite scary.

"You put a candy on top of it, you are just in a sugar overload,” Sawyer said. “And sugar leads to a lot of health problems, including obesity and diabetes, and that can lead to cardiovascular disease."

To cut some of the sugar while still enjoying the holiday, Sawyer recommended ditching the car and walking between houses, encouraging kids to take only one piece of candy per house, and even having a contest to see who can get the most steps in when trick-or-treating.

While a few days of increased sugar intake around Halloween might not be a make-or-break for long-term health, Sawyer said the much larger problem is general sugar consumption in the U.S.

"This generation of children could have shorter lives - actually as much as five years shorter lifespan - than their parents, simply because of the risk factors that go along with obesity,” she said.

In the past few years, more families in Michigan and across the nation have opted to hand out non-food treats at Halloween, such as small toys and games, which Sawyer said also makes the holiday more inclusive for kids with food allergies.

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