Live Well Delmarva: Don’t let Halloween treats play a trick on children’s health

 

The goodies that kids collect can add up fast: 72 calories in a bite-sized Snickers bar, 80 in a treat-sized bag of Skittles, 100 in a snack-sized Butterfinger, and 20 “kernels” of the leading brand of candy corn total 150 calories.

Just a handful of those treats can quickly account for a whole day’s recommended calorie allotment for children under age 9 (1,000 to 1,400 calories a day is acceptable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) — without adding any nutrition at all.

One way to keep kids on a healthy path is to make sure they stay active. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says children between the ages of 6 and 17 should get a full hour of exercise every day. When parents stay fit, kids are likely to follow their example.

Kick off Halloween — a few days early — in a healthy way at the Sneakers & Creepers 5K Walk/Run, which starts at the Avery W. Hall Educational Center at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury on Sunday, October 26 at 9 a.m. It’s free and fun for all ages; baby joggers are allowed, and participants can even bring pets that need exercise. Everyone is encouraged to walk or run in costume, and there will even be a costume contest for children, adults and pets. (Just make sure it’s a safe costume for being active ─ tripping over tails or capes or walking off a curb because a mask is obscuring your vision would put a damper on the fun.) A post-race party will be held in the Avery W. Hall Educational Center at 10 a.m. with healthy snacks and water. Drawings will also be held for prizes, including a FitBit fitness tracker.

After children have stockpiled their sweets, there are fun tricks to cut down on some of that candy in ways that won’t add to waistlines or assault teeth:

•Set up an exchange for children: At 25 cents a candy bar, they might be tempted to trade in enough candy to buy that new toy they’ve been asking for.

•Help children cull their candy haul for heat-resistant candies (so, no chocolate or gummies) that can be sent to soldiers serving overseas. Collect a box full, and you have a perfect donation to Operation Shoebox — visit www.operationshoebox.com to find out how it works.

•Use some glue and toothpicks to create a candy city, or use them as game pieces for a realistic version of the board game Candyland.

•Try some weird science, as seen at www.candyexperiments.com, where you can help children find out how to perform an acid test on lemon candies, or make the letters in M&Ms or Skittles float in water.

On Halloween night, don’t forget to stay healthy by using some basic safety precautions: Never allow young children to trick-or-treat alone; equip everyone with flashlights or reflective costumes to make them visible to motorists; make sure they don’t dart into the street; and avoid cumbersome, baggy costumes that increase the risk of fall-related injuries, or masks and wigs that obstruct a child’s vision.

For the sweets they do eat, make sure a parent inspects them first for any tampering. If you have any doubts about its safety, just throw it out.

Don’t forget, Halloween is just one day a year, so a little indulgence won’t hurt children — as long as it’s balanced out by a healthy, active lifestyle year round.

If You Go

What: Sneakers & Creepers 5K Run/Walk

Where: Avery W. Hall Education Center, Peninsula Regional Medical Center

When: Sunday, Oct. 26, 9 a.m.

Cost: Free

Register: Call 410-543-7028 or visit www.peninsula.org/classesandevents to register online.

More: A post-race party at 10 a.m. will include snacks and drawings for prizes.

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