Decked out in their scariest costumes and most glamorous attire, many of Maui's 150,000 residents may hit the streets this Halloween. As a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, I believe there are healthier alternatives for Halloween festivities and tips for regulating candy consumption.
Halloween is always an exciting time of year for children, but too much sugar can lead to a health nightmare. Excessive intake of sugar can cause unwanted effects such as weight gain, early onset of diabetes, an impaired immune system and chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. We want our keiki to have as much fun as possible this Halloween without putting their health at risk by an excess of sugary treats.
Here are 10 tips for ensuring a safe and healthy Halloween:
* Instead of providing candy to trick-or-treaters, hand out nonsugary treats or small items such as stickers or washable tattoos as an alternative.
* Enjoy a healthy and hearty meal before heading out to trick-or-treat. By doing so, a child will be less inclined to snack on candy as they are filling up their goody bags.
* Plan out a trick-or-treating route and venture a few blocks away to work in extra exercise, instead of limiting yourself to your street.
* Get active. Play active games or dance to Halloween tunes or any fast-paced music to warm up and increase your metabolism before trick-or-treating.
* Regulate and control the amount of candy a child brings home by giving them smaller bags or pails to use for the evening.
* Be safe when trick-or-treating by traveling around the neighborhood with a group of friends, while holding a flashlight and keeping to sidewalks.
* Parents and supervising adults should inspect all treats collected before allowing children to consume them. Be cautious of holes or tears in the wrappers, and candies that can twist open and close.
* Remember, everything in moderation. Provide children with one to three pieces of candy from the night and keep the rest for later.
* Instead of trick-or-treating, host a Halloween party for the neighborhood kids. Offer fun and active games, such as bobbing for apples, and serve healthy treats for everyone to enjoy.
* Many people have leftover treats lying around long after Halloween has ended. Hide away surplus candies and regulate how often and how many children can have. You can also choose to give away leftover candy by taking extras to work to share with colleagues or by simply donating it.
* David Ulin, M.D., is a pediatrician and the physician-in-charge of Kaiser Permanente Hawaii clinics on Maui.