The big night is over, costumes are crumpled, and eyes bleary. It’s all over, except for the haunting pile of candy. How much Halloween candy should kids eat? Is it a free for all, or are treats doled out over the weeks to come?
While one day of splurging isn’t going to cause harm, a steady surplus of excess sugar is linked to health problems in kids as well as adults. Filling up on sugary foods and drinks squeezes out important nutrients that growing bodies need, and excess sugar intake can also promote dental caries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released guidelines in 2015 recommending children and adults reduce their intake of free sugars to less than 10% of daily daily calories. Free sugars includes naturally occurring sugars in fruit juices and fruit juice concentrate. What this means in practical terms for a 7-year old moderately active boy who needs about 1,500 calories a day is no more than 19 grams of sugar (4.5 teaspoons) of free sugars a day. The American Heart Association released similar guidelines for kids ages 2 to 18. Based on links to high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, they recommend no more than 25 grams or six teaspoons of added sugars a day. Children under two should avoid added sugars.
It doesn’t take much Halloween candy to hit these sugar limits:
15 g Skittles = 11 g sugar
12 g Kit Kat = 6 g sugar
13 g Mars Bar = 8 g sugar
10 g Starburst = 5.5 g sugar
Mini Snickers bar = 7 g sugar
I don’t want to take the fun out of Halloween, but this information might help put into perspective how you want to manage, negotiate and set limits around Halloween candy stockpiles. Decide on a maximum number of treats to be eaten per day and bag them up. You can keep them in the freezer out of sight and mind. Discuss a time frame for how long Halloween candy will be a part of school lunches or dinner time desserts. Children can reduce that stockpile by sorting their candy from their most favourite to their least. The latter can often just be thrown out. Think about how you will manage Halloween candy next year and discuss in advance with your children.
Written by Joyce, Parent Support Coach