The Dangers of Halloween Addiction – Who Does This to Children?

While I enjoy seeing kids and adults in cute Halloween costumes, I abhor the TREAT factor of Halloween. As an ignorant child and teen, I went trick or treating, wore costumes and went to Halloween parties. And as a teacher, I dressed in a suit and wore a Richard Nixon mask more than once on Halloween.

However, in the early 1980s I changed my lifestyle drastically and became health conscious and that was the last time I gave out sugar-laced treats. Gasp, I even stopped drinking Coke, Pepsi, 7-Up, and even Dr. Pepper, my childhood favorite.

Instead of that free candy, I gave out small boxes of organic raisins at Halloween until a neighbor accused me of being cheap because I didn’t hand out treats drenched with processed sugar. I’m talking about those bulky 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 another reason why I stopped handing out popular treats on Halloween, because I witnessed what too much sugar did to my students—too much hyper energy, then lethargy leading to inattention and mood swings. It’s a real challenge to teach a child or teen who drank a sixty-ounce Pepsi for lunch and comes to class with glazed eyes, and in today’s Bill Gates supported high stakes test world of Common Core education that ranks and punishes teachers and closes public schools, sugar should be enemy number two behind Bill Gates and his evil cronies.

In fact, many children and teens of today even hate drinking water because it isn’t sweet, and that is because they are addicted to the sugar. Forbes.com reported, “Research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” [neuroscientist Joseph] Schroeder said. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”

Most if not all of us know that heroin and methamphetamine are the most addictive illegal drugs, followed by cocaine, pentobarbital, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, but most do not know that sugar should be on that list too. It’s addictive and destructive. When the researchers “used immunohistochemistry to measure the expression of a protein called c-Fos, a marker of neuronal activation, in the nucleus accumbens, or the brain’s ‘pleasure center,’” they found that “the Oreos activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine.”

In addition to being more addictive than cocaine or morphine, how destructive is sugar?

“The Pompeiians have healthy teeth, only in the rarest cases marred by decay: this is thanks to a mainly vegetarian diet and to an almost total lack of sugar in the diet, explained dental surgeon Elisa Vanacore.”

According to a recent 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.

“A large epidemiological study suggest sugar may also have a direct, independent link to diabetes. Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of California-San Francisco examined data on sugar availability and diabetes rates from 175 countries over the past decade. After accounting for obesity and a large array of other factors, the researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates.” – Stanford.edu

If you still doubt, to discover how horrible processed sugar is, I suggest reading this piece on Healthline.com where you will learn how dangerous diabetes can be.

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.

And did you know that 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 spends millions of dollars on lobbying in Washington DC to stop any proposed consumer protection regulations. Source: IBIS World.com and Sunlight Foundation.com

Now you know why I stopped celebrating trick or treat, because all of those free treats are not really free—they comes with a horrible price. Maybe it is time to take the sugar out of Halloween and just keep the costumes.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

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16 thoughts on “The Dangers of Halloween Addiction – Who Does This to Children?

  1. I am a sugar addict myself but the last 10 years it ihas been giving me a migraine when I over indulge. I have learned to know just how much I can have before I’m at risk for a migraine. That has really helped me cut down on the drug.

    Back in my childhood some people gave out money instead of candy in our neighborhood. Since I was a picky candy eater compared to most kids, I loved getting money! Although a quarter went a lot further than. The first year we moved into our house, I forgot about Halloween and we didn’t have any treats so I gave out a dollar to each kid who came here. They all complained and said that I was suppose to give out candy. LOL!

    Now we either put a lock on our gate for the night or go to a movie. We don’t want to give out candy. .

    • I do something similar. On Halloween, I turn off the power to all the outside automated lights and we installed blinds on all the front windows that are black out blinds when they are down. No light gets in and no light gets out.

      The first year I did that, even the darkness didn’t stop the trick or treaters climbing the two flights of stairs up the hillside to our front door in pitch darkness—no lights inside and no lights outside and we have no street lights at the end of our street. But they carry their own flashlights. The next year, I made a gate that I screw to the base of the second set of stairs with a sign that says no trespassing. That did the trick and I still pull down all the black out blinds and keep most of the inside lights off. After all, the child addicts are deserter for their sugar fix.

      When I was still teaching, it was a waste of time to attempt to teach the day after Halloween because the kids were either higher than the international space station or lower than the Dead Sea, and at the end of the day candy wrappers littered the campus and the classroom floors even though the district-wide rule was no eating in class. Every time the teachers turned their backs for any reason, the candy quickly went from pocket to mouth.

  2. Sugar really is the most widespread legal drug, and it causes more health problems most illegal ones. I’ve been cutting it out of my diet. The older you get, the worse it is for you. It’s amazing that the government went after tobacco like it did, and just left big sugar alone. Hmm…

    • Tobacco was an easier target, I think, than sugar. I don’t think tobacco was added to any of the food we eat, but sugar is in almost every form of processed food: frozen, freeze dried or canned, and it is not only addictive, sugar is a preservative that adds to the shelf life of the processed food it is added to. For instance, 60 Minutes had a segment on a company that works for a lot of fast food corporations and this company’s job is to come up with artificial flavors that make processed food more addictive so we crave that food and can’t stop thinking about it and sugar plays a vital role in that addiction and those cravings. I struggle almost all of the time against these cravings. Even when I’m not hungry, I’ll carry this craving around with me for a slice of apple pie or a chocolate parfait. At least I have no craving for sodas anymore and water is my main drink.

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