PITTSBURGH - Who doesn’t like Halloween? From the colored leaves, to the crisp autumn air, hay rides, pumpkin patches and the fun and fantasy of wearing costumes, Halloween is a very popular time of year.
It’s also popular for its candy free-for-all. With our lives so filled with work, family and other commitments, it’s so easy to just pick up Halloween candy from the local grocery or drug store. Who can resist chocolate covered marshmallow pumpkins, candy corn and bite-sized candy bars – everyone knows you need to eat at least four of them to make up a regular sized candy bar! But as a nation, we know we need to be healthier. It’s a startling statistic, but one in three our little trick-or-treaters are either overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963.
Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. There are also psychological effects. Obese children are more prone to low self-esteem, negative body image and depression.
However, there’s good news: Obesity can be stopped. And it doesn’t take high-tech treatments or cutting-edge medications. The solution begins and ends with the daily decisions we make and parents are critical to helping children reach and maintain a healthy weight.
The American Heart Association is working to help kids and families live heart-healthy lives. Try these tips for the Halloween season:
▪ Eat a healthy meal before you set out trick or treating – that way kids won’t feel the need to immediately dive into their bag of goodies
▪ Set limits on how much your kids can eat – everything in moderation – no binging
▪ Hide the candy bowl – out of sight – out of mind (that goes for mom and dad, too!)
▪ Let your kids enjoy their candy for 2-3 days and then throw the rest away or donate leftovers to a food pantry
▪ Don’t buy candy until the last minute – then YOU and your kids won’t be tempted to rip the bag open and eat it all before Halloween
▪ Buy only enough candy to hand out – no leftovers, no snacking!
▪ Only buy candy that you don’t like – it’s not as much fun, but chances are you won’t eat it!
▪ Choose non-sweet treats – for example: 100 calorie bags of snacks, pretzels, granola bars, fresh fruit, nuts and raisins
▪ Try non-candy treats like stickers, pencils or crayons
Teaching your kids to make good decisions about their health will give them the confidence they need to keep making healthy choices. Make eating well a habit that lasts a lifetime.
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit www.heart.org , or call any of our offices around the country.