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4,800 calories: That's what is in an average trick-or-treat haul

MAYWOOD, Ill. – For most kids Halloween is all about the candy. It is estimated that each child’s bag of goodies contains about 4,800 calories and has 3 cups of sugar and 1½ cups of fat. The real horror in the Halloween trick-or-treat bag is how it adds to an already scary epidemic of childhood obesity.

“Kids and teens love Halloween. It’s filled with fun parties, costumes and free candy. Halloween can be a great time as long as parents make sure their child doesn’t go overboard eating all that candy,” said Garry Sigman, MD, director of the Pediatric Weight Management Program at Loyola University Health System.
Sigman gives some tips for making Halloween happy and healthy.

Focus on fun, not candy. Find fun activities for your kids to do instead of just walking door-to-door getting candy. Plan a party with fun games or have a pumpkin-carving contest. You could watch a scary movie or have a costume parade.

Set limits. Limit the time your kids are out trick-or-treating. Instead of the pillowcase, look for a small bag that they can use to collect candy. When they get home let them pick out two pieces to eat and then put the rest away in a freezer or hidden place to save for another day. All children should eat no more than one or two pieces of candy a day. If children are obese, they should not eat more than one or two pieces of candy a week.

Host a candy trade-in party. When the kids get back from trick-or-treating, the candy in each child’s bag is weighed. Kids can exchange their candy for prizes based on the bag’s weight.

Not all treats are unhealthy and you can help your neighbors by handing out healthier treats. According to Sigman, healthier treats include:

  • Fruit leathers
  • Packs of sugarless gum
  • Boxed or packaged dried fruit like raisins
  • Single servings of ready-to-eat cereal, but look for ones with less than 10 grams of sugar
  • Lollipops
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • 100-calorie packs of cookies or snacks
  • Low-fat granola bars
  • Snack-size bags of popcorn
  • Non-food treats such as Play-Doh, spider rings, bubbles, temporary tattoos, sidewalk chalk or cookie cutters.

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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Evie Polsley
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Anne Dillon
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