Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween: Treat Your Kids to a Healthy Future


For Immediate Release:
October 29, 2010

Halloween: Treat Your Kids to a Healthy Future
Public Health offers tips to keep your holiday safe and healthy

LOS ANGELES - The Department of Public Health today reminded residents
that Halloween can be a great opportunity to enjoy outdoor physical
activity while teaching kids important lessons about nutrition and

"Halloween is a 'teachable moment' for your kids," said
Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health
Officer. "Try incorporating healthy habits into the festivities by
getting physical activity while neighborhood trick-or-treating, showing
children how to be safe around moving traffic when walking through the
neighborhood, and enjoying treats in moderation."

Enjoy Physical Activity
Use trick-or-treat time and Halloween party activities to get your
daily dose of physical activity. Children should get 60 minutes and
adults should get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily.

"Trick-or-treating is a great way to get your kids to 'unplug'
from TV, video games, and computers and get outside," Dr. Fielding

Make Candy a Treat, Not a Whole Meal
According to the California Milk Processor Board and the California
Dietetic Association, an average-size Jack-O-Lantern bucket fits about
250 pieces of small chocolate bars and candy, which adds up to 9,000
calories (4.5 times the recommended daily amount for a grown person),
200 grams of fat and 1,500 grams of sugar. Just eight mini-candy bars
contain as much as 506 calories and 31 grams of fat. That is almost the
equivalent of a quarter-pound cheeseburger (510 calories, 26 grams of

"Moderation is the key," Dr. Fielding said. "Children and adults
can unconsciously eat an unhealthy amount of candy and more in one
sitting. Taking it easy on the sweets and making sure that your kids do,
too, is a great way to avoid consuming excessive calories and problems
that can lead to tooth decay or other dental issues."

Also, try to provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters, such as
individual packs of raisins or pretzels. Alternative gifts, such as
stickers, crayons or other inexpensive novelties, can be a great way to
reward children.

When you get home from trick-or-treating, inspect all treats before
eating them for choking hazards and tampering. When in doubt, throw it
out. If you are throwing a party, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables,
and cheeses, as well as non-alcoholic drinks.

Ensure Safety on the Streets
Avoid trick-or-treating alone, have children walk in groups or with a
trusted adult. Decorate treat bags with reflective tape and have each
child carry a flashlight so vehicle drivers can see them. Teach your
kids to walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic,
and to use designated crosswalks wherever possible.

Keep porches, walkways, and stairs well-lit and clear of candle-lit
jack-o'-lanterns, luminaries, and other decorations that could trip
people. Place jack-o'-lanterns on sturdy tables, keep them out of
reach of pets and small children, and never leave candlelit
jack-o'-lanterns unattended.

"Make sure your children know that they must not enter homes for
treats," Dr. Fielding said. "If you do not go along for the
trick-or-treating, give your child a phone number where you can be
quickly reached and show them how to call 9-1-1 if they have an
emergency or become lost."

Plan Safe Costumes
Masks should fit the head so your child can see clearly. If your child
wears face paint or make-up, test a small area of the skin before
applying to make sure they do not have an allergic reaction to the
make-up. Help children select costumes that are soft and fit well so
they can avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls. Swords, knives, and
similar costumes accessories should be short, soft, and flexible. Make
sure costumes are flame- resistant. If colored contact lenses will be
used as part of the costume, make sure to check with an eye doctor
first. Never share contact lenses with another user.

The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and
improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles
County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and
services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control,
and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000
employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more
about Public Health and the work we do, please visit, visit our YouTube channel at, or follow us on Twitter:

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