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Archive for October 29th, 2012

Sugar sugar

Sugar sugar (Photo credit: dhammza)

What do you think Halloween means to most children? My first guess is candy. I doubt they think much about ghost and goblins. They recognize the best part of trick or treat. It’s all about those gooey or hard high-sugar candies.

What’s a parent to do? While we’re concerned about all that sugar, what are we dishing out to our neighbor’s children?

Most of us enjoy sweets. There’s nothing wrong with candy to satisfy our occasional sweet tooth. But are some options healthier than others?

The National Confectioners Association at http://www.candyusa.com gives a calorie count of select candies and other helpful information. Consider these treats for less than 100 calories:

CANDY

AMOUNT

CALORIES

hard candy

one piece 20

Hershey’s miniature assortment

one

42

4-bite size chocolate squares

one 45
jelly beans 15-25 small

60-100

Brach’s candy corn

13 pieces 70
candy bars small snack size

about 80

Mound’s

small snack size

80

peanut butter cups two bite-sized

about 90

 

Although the high sugar content of candy is a concern, especially for children, it isn’t the worst thing they can eat. In the average diet, candy provides about 6 percent of added sugar, ranking just above dairy desserts at 5.4 percent. Fruit drinks come in third with 10.5 percent followed by grains and flour based desserts at 13 percent, and various other foods at 28 percent. The highest amount of sugar in the diet, at nearly 38 percent, comes from sodas and energy/sports drinks.

While candy contributed modestly toward total calories, researchers claimed it didn’t increase weight or body mass index (BMI) as much as other high-calorie foods and drinks. Children and adolescents who consumed more candy, which resulted in slightly higher total energy and added sugar intakes, weren’t as likely to be overweight or obese as those who did not eat candy.

Is this a license to overindulge? By no means. Added sugar in any food increases calories, and calories translate into weight.The average American eats candy less than twice a week and averages less than 50 calories a day from those tasty morsels.

This Halloween, use judgment in the amount of candy you allow yourself and your children.  Give the kids a treat while selectively controlling calories. Teach them to enjoy treats in moderation while eating healthier diets with plenty of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, and whole grain breads and cereals. You will know you have done your part to keep them healthy.

Little goblins and adult ones, too, can savor limited amounts of candy treats on this special occasions without feeling guilty.

 

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