Halloween: Why You Should Be Giving Out Tricks Not Treats

halloween-candyThe fact is that American kids consume too much candy on Halloween.  A study by Ogden and Carroll found that over a third of children and adolescents in 2010 were defined as obese or overweight. A study carried out by the NPD Group (that undertakes market research on eating trends) found that a staggering 4 percent of all candy consumed during the year is consumed on this one day alone.

So what is the solution?  Well, you probably don’t want to be that parent that gives out tricks rather than treats.  And you can’t control what others are doing.  But you can exert some level of control over what your family is consuming on Halloween.  So, take some expert advice.  According to mother of three, registered dietician and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Sarah Krieger, one way to handle the Halloween candy rush is to cut back on something else that you are eating on that day that is not so healthy such as sugared drinks or granola bars – anything with added sugar.  Then, sit down with your kids ahead of time to discuss what they intend to do with their Halloween candy.  Maybe they want to keep some and give some to charity.  Or maybe they want to give you the candy and let you decide when to give it to them, slowly.

In addition, it is wise to make sure you serve your kids a healthy, wholesome meal just before all the candy fanfare begins.  That way if they are full on good foods they are less likely to completely over-indulge.

At the end of the day Halloween is a lot of fun.  But it really doesn’t have to be all about eating as much candy as you can.  A lot of the enjoyment is in the collecting, going door-to-door, dressing up, trading with siblings and friends etc.  So as a parent, try to make the focus on that rather than the total over-consumption of Halloween candy.

Caesareans Might Just Make Your Baby Fat

Certainly, there are many reasons to avoid having a caesarean section when you can. Researchers have just added another one to the mix – obesity.  According to a US study from Boston Children’s Hospital published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal, babies delivered from caesarean are more likely to become obese children than are those delivered naturally.

Researchers looked at 1225 mother and child pairs over a three year period. 25% of the deliveries were from caesarean. Taking into account the factor of obesity and other factors, they found that close to 16% of the babies born by caesarean were obese by the age of three, as opposed to only 7.5% of the babies born naturally.

The researchers in this study believe that obese people born by caesarean were not exposed to beneficial bacteria and that their bodies don’t metabolize food as quickly as a result. Other researchers have found that obese people have less of this good bacteria in their digestive system and higher levels of bad bacteria than do thinner people.

Other researchers, however, have concluded that the tie between caesarean and obesity is due to the fact that more obese women require caesarean sections than do thin women. Time, and more research, will tell which is true (or if perhaps both are). But it certainly gives doctors and patients considering caesarean another reason to pause.

Overweight Teens at Risk of Heart Problems

Recent data has revealed that more than half of the United States’ overweight teens are at risk of heart problems as a result of high blood pressure, blood sugar levels or cholesterol. Children who are obese are even more susceptible to these conditions.

“What this is saying, unfortunately, is that we’re losing the battle early with many kids,” said University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Dr. Stephen Daniels. He added that people can guard their health and minimize risk of heart disease by reaching the ages 45-50 while maintaining a healthy weight, normal blood pressure and cholesterol, and no diabetes.

The figure above was discovered through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study researching 3,383 teens between the ages 12 and 19. The project included interviews, weight monitoring, regular measurements and medical tests.

Though the study revealed that being overweight can dramatically increase risk to heart health, it also suggested that the obesity levels are not rising in the U.S.

“All of us are looking for some sign or signal that we’re making headway,” said Dr. William Mahle of Emory University. “So that was reassuring.”

However, the amount of diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions are climbing at an alarming rate, baffling the doctors involved in the study. Some believe the numbers are a result of less accurate testing devices, while others believe there is a different underlying cause.

“This study is just a first step to identify problems in youth. More work needs to be done to identify why this is happening and the advantages of using various test methods in this population,” said CDC epidemiologist Ashleigh May.

Interesting Nutritious Food for Toddlers

With the incidence of obesity and diabetes on the increase, many organizations in the UK are realizing how important it is to provide healthy, nutritious meals for kids in preschools to start the education early. The National Day Nurseries Association, the National Child-minding Association and the Pre-School Learning Alliance are backing the School Food Trust program that is implementing nutritious food programs for the kids.  So what will be happening is that chicken nuggets and fish fingers won’t be welcome on the menu anymore.  New nutrition guidelines will be put in place and food such as risotto, vegetable stew and tuna. 

The UK Government has backed these guidelines.  Currently, preschools are spending a very small amount of money – around 30 cents – on each child’s meal.  Research has (not surprisingly) shown that only one third of parents are satisfied with the food their children are receiving.

Healthy Snacks

Once on the subject of healthy, nutritious food for kids, snacks have been brought under the limelight as well.  For example, instead of granola bars that are mainly chocolate-based, or potato chips, vegetable sticks, rice-cakes and fruit are being suggested as a replacement. 

One of the reasons this scheme is being implemented is because kids are just not getting the appropriate food which means they are not consuming energy-rich foods or enough vitamins and minerals.  The plan has received the full backing of Sarah Teather, the Children’s Minister and Lib-Dem MP.

Delaware – Taking Charge Where Obesity is Concerned

Some local coalitions are getting creative to get children’s weight back on track.  One local coalition of Delaware County organizations has created a program called Healthy Living Take Charge!  Their goal is to take concrete steps to lower the county’s high obesity rates among adults and children.

As Tamara White, co-chairman of Healthy Living and a Delaware County Health Department employee, said, “Instead of reinventing the wheel, coming up with a program that may get funded for a couple of years and that’s it, we created small grants to assist agencies that already have a good track record creating obesity-focused programs. The focus on obesity is what we needed in this community and this way we’re working on this issue.”

Healthy Living Take Charge! is using its $14,000 in mini-grant dollars to offer money to programs that address both nutrition and physical activity.  They are trying to encourage day cares, preschools and other agencies that work with young children to use their forum to address obesity and to teach children at an early age.