It’s that time of year again, and the shelves in the grocery stores are filling up with Halloween candy. Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy each year for Halloween. We love sugar. And while it’s common knowledge that eating too much sugar is unhealthy, you might not realize how dangerous it really is. Let’s review a few facts about sugar before you dive into the sugariest holiday of the year with your mouth wide open.
Your body requires a certain amount of calories each day to function. Within those calories, you need to fit in so many vitamins and healthy, whole, and nutrient-dense foods. Added sugar is a high calorie food that doesn’t provide any nutritional value. You’re body doesn’t need any added sugar to survive.
According to the American Heart Association, women should eat no more than 100 calories (6 teaspoons) of added sugar* a day and men should eat no more than 150 calories (9 teaspoons) of added sugar a day. That equates to about 3–4 fun size candy bars or one can of 12 oz. soda.
On Halloween, the average child consumes about three cups of sugar, which is about 144 teaspoons of sugar. That is a lot of sugar! And although all of that sugar is bound to give your child a stomach ache, the real concern is the increasing amount that the average American consumes per day. Most Americans generally eat more than twice the amount of sugar than they should each day. The average adult consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, and the average child consumes about 32 teaspoons of added sugar a day.
On average, Americans get about 10% of their caloric intake from sugar, and some even get 25%. In a recent study, scientists found that “participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar” (Corliss). So if you allow sugars to take up more than the recommended percentage of your diet, you not only run the risk of tooth decay and weight gain, but also the risk of dying from heart disease. Even if you are relatively thin and continue to eat more than the recommended amount of sugar, you still run the risk of suffering from heart disease.
So the next time you think about chowing down on a candy bar, maybe think about picking up a heart-healthy fruit or vegetable instead. And as you get ready to limit your children’s sugar intake on Halloween, don’t forget to watch their sugar intake the rest of the year as well!
Watch our Halloween Food Safety Talkabout Video on this subject:
*Added sugar doesn’t occur in food naturally and is the sugar added to foods during or after production.