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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Halloween health hazards

Published: October 21, 2011
Section: Features

Nothing says autumn quite like the squirrels going nuts for nuts, having the sniffles and digging through your drawers for mittens. But really, the tell-tale sign of this season are the first-years prowling the consignment shops on Moody Street for the perfect Halloween costume. Yes, along with midterms, parents’ weekend and changing leaves, there comes one night when the studious little Brandeis students get to dress up and go crazy! So here I am again, your health voice of reason, to remind you how to have your Halloween candy fun in moderation.

According to “U.S. News & World Report Health Report,” the average American today consumes about 142 pounds of sugar per year. That’s eating a Gabby in sugar cubes. Yikes. There is a literal hefty health price to pay for all of that sugar. Each pound of sugar has about 1,755 calories in it. That’s a total of about 249,200 calories per year just from added sugar. Based on a daily 2,000-calorie consumption, I calculated that amount of sugar to be about 34 percent of your daily food intake. Although this may get you through a couple of midterm study nights, I think the risks outweigh the benefits here.

Too much sugar can contribute to diabetes, produce an acidic stomach, suppress the immune system, raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, promote weight gain and obesity, and the list goes on and on. Even though snacking on Halloween candy is socially acceptable here, what can we do this upcoming Halloween not to fall into the sugar consumption statistic?

Let’s face it, it is immoral to deny yourself candy on Halloween. Instead, implementing portion control could help satisfy the cravings without packing on the pounds. Eat one or two wrapped candies instead of continually digging into the candy corn bowl into which zillions of other grubby little fingers have dug. This way you control the amount you eat and avoid everyone else’s germs.

Next, take it easy when you’re out at parties. Altered judgments go beyond macking it with the blue Power Ranger or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in the basement. It also can lead to you chowing down on the candy bowl without realizing when you’re getting full or what you’re even eating. It’s a much better idea to average a drink per hour and snack on some carrots and hummus after a long night of celebrating.

Lastly, donate three-fourths of your candy to a food drive or pantry. A program called Operation Gratitude will take your donated candy and put it in a care package to U.S. military troops overseas. This can add a little gratification to your diet choices beyond the well-fitting jeans.

Most importantly, get your “sugar high” from spending time with friends and having fun this Halloween instead of from actual sugar! Have a great holiday and take a relaxing break from midterms.