Arizona Pediatricians Offer Healthy Halloween Ideas

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Payson parents might fret over Halloween when they discover that more than 25 percent of Arizona’s youth might have trouble fitting into their costume. Trick or treating should frighten the adults who watch over them.

Obesity in children and adolescents is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States. In Arizona, data shows that more than a quarter of the young people are overweight or obese and that this trend is worsening. This means children are dealing with diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions at a young age. The implications of these issues are life-long.

October officially brings out the sweets — from Halloween on into Thanksgiving and the December holidays.

The Obesity Committee of the Arizona Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics (AzAAP) has a few reminders for parents as the holiday season gears up and the bags of candy loom large from the supermarket shelves.

  1. Realize that you have every opportunity to “reframe” what a treat is. Try positioning fruits and healthier options as treats. The more you modify your language and reposition what kids might see as a reward, the better they are likely to incorporate quality choices into their eating habits as they get older.

  2. Get outside and get the kids moving and away from the technology and video screens.

  3. Play with food. Grab great fruits and veggies and make Halloween monsters out of them for dinner. It could be a fun tradition. A little friendly contest could be fun, too.

  4. Go green for Halloween. Consider healthier treats to hand out, reuse costumes, repurposed décor — whatever helps kids learn a healthier outlook for the holidays.

  5. When the big day rolls, make sure you walk door to door. Get out of the car and get to know your neighbors. Maybe even outfit the kids with pedometers for another contest.

  6. Consider handing out stickers, small toys, apples, small bags of pretzels and other treats your kids can help you put together. Then make a sign that says you’re a Healthy and Happy Halloween House.

  7. Have kids pick their top five to 10 pieces of candy and then either donate the rest in exchange for a toy or ration it over the next few months.

  8. Host your own Halloween party and focus on healthy snacks. This way Halloween can be about the fun of costumes and playing with friends rather than over-indulging in candy.

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