The danger behind trick or TREAT at Halloween

While I enjoy seeing kids and adults in cute Halloween costumes, I abhor the TREAT factor of Halloween. As an ignorant child, teen and then younger adult, I went trick or treating, wore costumes and went to Halloween Parties. As a teacher and an adult, I was Richard Nixon more than once on Halloween, and one time in the late 1970s I was Aunt Jemima with black face paint—that would probably be politically incorrect today but there were no complaints in the 70s.

However, the last time we gave out treats, they were small boxes of sweet, organic raisins. Then a few weeks later, a neighbor accused me of being cheap because we did not hand out treats drenched with processed sugar. I’m talking about those bulk bags full of miniature Snickers, Twix, M&M’s, Juicy Fruits, Tootsie Rolls, Oh Henry!, Butterfinger, Starbursts, Hershey’s, Reese’s, Skittles, Kit Kat, Milky Way, etc.

Thirty years of teaching kids that consumed too much sugar is the reason why we stopped handing out sugar laced treats on Halloween. I witnessed what too much sugar did to my students—too much hyper energy, then lethargy leading to inattention and mood swings. It is a real challenge to teach a student that drank a sixty-ounce Pepsi for lunch and comes to class with glazed eyes.

I’d be willing to offer treats again but if I did it would be the apples on one tree in our back yard. By the time Halloween rolls around, the organic apples on that tree are crisp and sweet, but I doubt many of today’s children or teens would be willing to take the time to hike up our hillside backyard and pick one or two apples from the tree.

In fact, many children and teens of today even hate drinking water because it isn’t sugary sweet.

In the UK, according to The Telegraph, “Almost half of children say they do not eat any fruit or vegetables every day, according to a new survey.”

In the United States, the numbers are much worse. According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, “Only 21 percent of young people (in the US) eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day,” while “Soda consumption increased dramatically in the early to mid 1990s. Thirty-two percent of adolescent girls and 52 percent of adolescent boys consume three or more eight ounce servings of soda per day.”

CBS News reported, “According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control, kids are getting way too much added sugar in their diets and that could raise their risk for obesity and chronic diseases.

“Consuming added sugars has been tied to an increased risk for heart disease among adolescents and cholesterol problems,” according to the CDC.

In addition, “The amount of sugar consumed is still extraordinarily high,” Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, told WebMD. “The amount is still so far over what any rational physician, dietitian, or government agency would have us be eating.”

The American Heart Association says, “Today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. With good reason, childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking.

“Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. There are also psychological effects: Obese children are more prone to low self-esteem, negative body image and depression.”

Diabetes affects all parts of the body, particularly adult onset diabetes. If left uncontrolled, it becomes a killer, which destroyed every organ in the body—including the heart and brain. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million adults and children in the United States have diabetes and another 79 million are pre diabetic.

Are you a parent? Do you encourage your children to get into the Halloween spirit, wear a costume and then walk door to door filling a bag with sugary candy? If the answer is yes to both questions, do you really love your children?

The leading five companies that make and sell candy and soda employ more than 40,000 workers and have annual revenues of $40 billion. This industry has spend hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying in Washington DC to stop any proposed consumer protection regulations. Source: IBIS World.com and Sunlight Foundation.com

Discover My Vegan Journey to Health or learn how to Avoid the Mainstream Parenting Trap

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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12 thoughts on “The danger behind trick or TREAT at Halloween

  1. We have to make sure there’s no sugar in the house. Our five year old goes crazy when he eats too much and if we keep soda, candy or pasties in the house, that’s all he wants to eat. And then he turns into a maniac running around house all hyper and full of energy followed a half hour later by a monster who gets red faced and throws tantrums as he demands more.

    Instead of quietly eating food that is healthy for him, he refused to eat unless its pie, cake, candy, chocolate or soda. It’s frightening. Sugar turns out lovely little boy into a sugar vampire.

    • I understand, I saw the same thing happen to kids I taught when I was a teacher. Polite, calm kids drink a coke and they turn into a mean, disrupting, defiant beast in the classroom followed by a blury eyed kid who has no energy to pay attention or focus on the assignment.

  2. I keep hearing about how dangerous sugar is—like worse than heroin, crack, cocaine, tobacco and booze. But I love it and we only live once so I guess I’ll die a painful early death with a smile because of all the drugs I’ll be on to cut the agony of it all.
    When I’m gone, I’m going to miss Coke, candy, chocolate cake. Ain’t no one going to tell me what to eat even no doctor.
    Enough said.

  3. Our kids are not allowed to go out trick or treating and we don’t allow candy or soda in our house. I wish more parents would do this. Maybe kids would not get fat and unhealthy.

  4. Many individuals need to eat a wholesome diet. This post is more proof of that fact. There is too much sugar out there.

    • True. And cancer loves sugar—just loves it with a passion that rivals death!!!!

      Then there is the explosion of diabetes among America’s youth and diabetes destroys every organ in the body—even the brain starting really early. In addition, diabetes will take your arms and legs if it gets out of control.

      Studies have also discovered that too much sugar consumption messes with long-term memory possibly explaining why so many kids have trouble remembering facts they learned in school.

  5. I appreciate that you are holding parents responsible for what their kids eat, and that includes Halloween. I was in the US last year for Halloween and several dentists said they would give their younger patients $5 if they handed over their Halloween candy, although really its up to the parents to give them the right food. I know Michelle Obama has been doing a lot to promote healthy eating among kids, including getting the Disney channel to stop airing ads for junk foods starting in 2014. I hope the initiative snowballs, it’s frightening what kids eat these days.

    • Thank you.

      When our daughter was a child and a teen (she’s in her third year at Stanford now and has a part time job with a bio-medical start up company), because the neighbor kids and all of her friends went out to trick or treat on Halloween, she dressed up in a costume too and we went with her. However, the candy she collected was kept in a bag and went into the freezer. We never had candy or soda at home. She was told she could have one piece a day after dinner but she soon forgot and that bag sat there for months before it went into the trash.

      But, at least, she had the experience of walking the streets on a cold night in Halloween feeling as if she belonged and wasn’t a freak. That’s the problem with society. If almost every child does something, then a child that is not allowed to do the same thing feels neglected as if she or he is a victim.

      The same thing happens with cell phones, iPods, watching TV, belonging to social networking sites such as Facebook. If a child doesn’t have all of this junk when most or all of the kids they know have it, they feel neglected and sometimes resent the parents making the parents the bad guys. What makes it worse is at school, the peer age friends will feel sorry for the so-called neglected one and say so. Even the parents of these children will chime in about how terrible it must be to have monster parents like that and that magnifies the problem.

      We limited TV to a few hours only on the weekends. If she had free time after homework/studying, her only recreation was to read books. While most if not all of her friends were allowed to stay up late into the morning almost every day, we had a strict rule that she had to go to bed early enough to get more than eight hours of sleep. While most of her peers had cell phones even in grade school, she didn’t get one until she was in high school and it was only to be used for emergencies (no minutes on the bill for her phone unless those minutes were talking to her mother or me because she called from school to let us know she was ready to come home for the day) and it wasn’t to be turned on at school. The one time she forgot to turn it off and it was confiscated by a teacher because it rang in class, she lost the phone for six months.

      At dinner, no music, no nothing but eating and family time where we talked and asked questions about her day or she asked us about our day and we answered. Over the years, she rebelled a few times and expressed her resentment that she could not be just like all of the other kids such as her friends at school.

      The Result: she graduated from high school with a 4.65 GPA with a long list of awards as a scholar athlete and was the only student from her graduating class to be accepted to Stanford. She also graduated from high school reading way above grade level and has had no problem succeeded at Stanford. All that time she was reading hundreds of books instead of watching thousands of hours of TV paid off too.

      The average child in America watches about 3 hours of TV a day seven days a week. That means the average child has watched about 20,000 hours of TV by the time he or she turns 18 compared to our daughter probably watched about 2,000 hours of TV in that time.

      In addition, I told her that a boring teacher was no excuse for not learning and if she had an incompetent teacher she was to tell us so we could complain to the school and tutor her at home in that subject. In all of her thirteen years in school K – 12, she only told us about one English teacher in 9th grade that was incompetent and that was because he was a long-term substitute due to the fact that the real teacher was out on maternity leave and the sub could not control the students. After she graduated, I asked her how many of her 40 to 50 teachers during those years were boring/incompetent and she thought about it and said TWO! From third grade to high school graduation, she earned straight A’s no matter how sorry she felt for herself because she didn’t have video games, could watch TV several hours a day, stay up late into the night like her friends, etc.

      She also moved four times and was a student in public school in four different districts. But every town we lived in, one day each week, her mother or I would drive her to the library where she checked out a stack of books to fill her empty time at home because there was no TV five to six days a week and the day or two that it was on, the screen was only on for an hour or two at most.

      In America, due to peer pressure from both other parents and children, it is HARD for tiger parents to say NO to so many FUN things (even food–we had no sugar in our home, no candy, no pie, no cake, no soda) that most kids get to do daily as if it is their birth right.

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