Dr. Day is a cardiologist/electrophysiologist at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowships in cardiology and electrophysiology at Stanford University. He is the former president of the Heart Rhythm Society and currently serves as the president of the Utah chapter of the American College of Cardiology.
3 Ways to Protect Kids’ Hearts from Halloween Candy
Sugar can cause blockages to form in even the hearts of young children according to a new report from the American Heart Association. As Halloween and candy go hand-in-hand, I share three ways to protect kids’ hearts from Halloween candy without missing out on any of the holiday fun.
New Sugar Guidelines for Kids
According to the new sugar guidelines for children, children over age two should consume less than six teaspoons (25 g or 100 calories) of added sugar each day. For children under age two, there is no safe amount of added sugar they can eat.
I should emphasize that these guidelines refer only to added sugar. Thus, the naturally occurring sugars in unprocessed fruits, such as an orange, apple, or banana don’t count toward the limit.
How much added sugar is in candy?
While a six teaspoon limit on added sugar may seem like a lot, it really isn’t. Considering that a Snickers bar packs more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar, a Hershey’s chocolate bar has six, and Reece’s peanut butter cups have more than 5 teaspoons of added sugar, the teaspoons can quickly add up. As just one little candy bar can put them over the limit, kids don’t stand a chance of staying within the new guidelines until their Halloween stash of candy is finally gone.
How much added sugar is in “healthy” foods?
Even if children don’t eat Halloween candy, they are still at risk of going over the added sugar limit. For example, two slices of “healthy” whole wheat bread have at least one teaspoon of sugar.
One serving of yogurt or granola can easily top six teaspoons of added sugar. Thus, many children are over the limit by breakfast even if they’re not eating Halloween candy.
3 Ways to Protect Kids’ Hearts from Halloween Candy
As conspiring food manufacturers have already packed their food-like products with added sugar, how do you even stand a chance of keeping your child within the limit around Halloween time?
Fortunately, there is a way. Let me share with you three ways to protect kids’ hearts from Halloween candy. By following these three tips, you can keep your children within the guidelines.
1. The Candy Fairy
Several years ago, our good friends introduced us to the “candy fairy.” Basically, once a year, the “candy fairy” visits our house and buys out all of our kids’ Halloween candy.
How this works is simple. Your children voluntarily put out the candy they wish to sell to the “candy fairy.” When they wake up on November 1st, they will cash in place of their candy.
The candy fairy could buy your kids’ Halloween candy by the piece or by the pound. In our home, the candy fairy currently pays $6 US dollars per pound of candy.
After Jane and I buy out their candy, we promptly throw it into the trash. While many parents bring their excess Halloween candy to work, we have chosen not to put our colleagues at risk.
The candy fairy concept has certainly had an interesting effect in our home. Now our children view the annual trick-or-treating activity as a way to earn money.
They use a pillow case and run from house-to-house knowing that the more candy they collect, the more money they can earn by selling it to the candy fairy. Thus, instead of Halloween being a dangerous time their hearts, it now turns into a great workout and money making opportunity.
2. Hand Out Lights
While you could certainly hand out healthy foods to the neighborhood trick-or-treaters who come to your home, this certainly wouldn’t make you the most popular house in the neighborhood.
A simple solution would be to hand out lights instead of candy. For example, kids love glow sticks or any other type of flashing light.
When every other home is handing out cardiac toxic candy, your house would definitely stand out as the cool house handing out lights. An added benefit is that these glow sticks, or other lights, make children more visible to motorists as they are trick-or-treating in the dark.
3. Hand Out Halloween Party Favors
If glow sticks or flashing lights are not your thing, you could try handing out Halloween party favors instead of candy. Children love coloring books, bubbles, novelty jewelry, pencils, hats, whistles, or even a bottle of water.
These Halloween party favors are often cheaper than candy if you buy them in bulk. Once again, you could stand out as the “cool house” in your neighborhood without having to resort to cardiac toxic candy. As of the time I published this article, Jane and I are still undecided as to whether we will do lights or party favors this year.
Take Home Message
Heart disease remains the number one killer in the Western world. New research points to added sugar as one of the main causes of heart disease. Not only is heart disease increased with added sugars, but cancer is also increased as well.
As even young children can start developing blockages in their hearts, responsible adults have a duty to protect kids’ hearts from Halloween candy. The three tips shared in this article can allow your family to enjoy the best that Halloween has to offer in a heart smart way.
How do you protect kids’ hearts from Halloween candy? Please leave your thoughts and suggestions below. As always, if you have not yet subscribed to my free weekly newsletter or podcast, now is the time.
Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.