Suggestions for making a healthier Halloween

From Staff Reports

The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR), Division of Public Health, is encouraging Georgians to make Halloween a healthy time for kids.

“Halloween can indeed be a tricky time as some kids overindulge on snacks loaded with fat and calories,” said Dr. Stuart Brown, M.D., director of the Division of Public Health, “but Halloween also provides an ideal opportunity for parents to promote moderation as part of a healthy diet and reinforce snacking alternatives to their children."

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) offers the following suggestions for non-traditional but nutritious Halloween goodies:

é Mini-rice cereal bites; Packages of trail mix or nuts; cereal bars; small boxes of raisins; small packages of dried fruit; sugar-free gum; mini juice boxes; snack-size packages of peanut butter and crackers, graham crackers or oatmeal cookies

Non-food treats also can replace some 'spooky' snacks. Instead of candy, consider Halloween pencils, pens, stickers, tattoos or spider rings. If you decide to give out candy, try mini-candy bars and treats with nuts for added nutritional value. Parents also should set guidelines for their children on how much and when candy can be consumed.

Limiting children's consumption of candy and other sweets on Halloween, and year-round, will significantly reduce the number of kids who are overweight or obese. In Georgia, about 11% of school-age children are overweight, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Studies show that Georgia kids are not getting the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables or three glasses of milk each day. More than 83 % of children statewide are not eating enough fruits or veggies while 87% do not drink enough milk. In addition, nearly 13% of Georgia kids say they do not participate in any vigorous or moderate physical activity.

The Georgia DHR is addressing the childhood obesity epidemic and sedentary youth lifestyles by promoting physical activity, a well-balanced diet and routine physical examinations as part of healthy living. Eating Healthy and Being Active are part of the Live Healthy Georgia campaign that also encourages Georgians to Get Checked, Be Smoke Free and Be Positive.

For more information about the Live Healthy Georgia campaign, visit www.livehealthygeorgia.org. For more information about eating healthy, visit the American Dietetic Association's website, www.eatright.org.