A typical trick-or-treater will consume up to 7,000 calories from candy on Halloween night.
Excess sugar can lead to a host of health problems. It affects brain chemistry and causes the heart not to function properly because of rising blood pressure. Sugar also raises blood sugar levels and causes tooth decay.
So should kids really be allowed to pig out on candy on the spookiest day of the year? I say let them.
The average American consumes 3.4 pounds of candy around Halloween. According to the American Chemical Society, the lethal dose of sugar for humans is about 5.4 pounds in one sitting. So as long as someone keeps their sugar intake well below that weight, they’ll survive.
While I don’t recommend testing that limit, or even eating the average of 3.4 pounds, the real concern here is how much candy kids should be allowed to eat on Halloween.
Obviously, that’s up to parents. But, one night of extra candy and a sugar high won’t be the end of the world or their health.
Actually, letting the kiddos get out their sugar craving in one night might actually be a better idea than giving them their Halloween candy in spurts across a few days.
According to Temple University pediatric dentist Mark Helpin, the frequency of eating candy and other refined carbohydrates, and their stickiness, are big factors in creating the risk of cavities. Eating those carbohydrates changes the pH balance in the mouth, making it more acidic. This acidic environment is what increases the risk of cavities. And it takes about an hour to dissipate.
Now, you might be thinking that sounds like a statement against the gobbling up of candy, but it’s not.
If you’re already allowing your kid to have candy, it’s better to let them have it in one sitting rather than giving them a little at a time because the acidic environment will have already been created.
If I eat a piece of candy, the pH levels in my mouth won’t go back to normal for up to an hour, and if I eat three pieces of candy instead of just one, that time frame stays the same. If I eat a piece, then eat another an hour or so later, or the next day, I’m creating an acidic environment in my mouth for a longer period of time, which raises the risk of cavities even more.
When I was a kid, once I got home from trudging up and down Oak Forest streets with my pillowcase full of Halloween candy, I ate my favorite candies and by the next day I wasn’t all that concerned about the bag of candy because all my favorites were gone.
Most kids probably aren’t like that. In fact, the kids in my family are looking for that bag of candy for days afterward.
The best choice is to let kids eat their favorite candies on Halloween night, but make it known that the candy leniency is for one night only.