Health Watch -- Treat Time

Health Watch is a Public Service of the  Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Have you bought your Halloween treats yet? Maybe you should consider something different this year.

With all the concerns about childhood obesity and younger people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, do we need to rethink Halloween, the holiday known for an abundance of candy?

Nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say parents don’t have to entirely ban Halloween treats. Just think in terms of moderation and consider fun alternatives. Cindy Cunningham, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern, suggests giving out healthier treats to trick-or-treaters who come to your door.

Instead of candy, you can pass out packets of raisins, nuts, sunflower seeds, trail mix or dried fruit. Other fun treats include rice cereal and marshmallow bars, granola bars and packs of sugar-free gum. You can buy many of these things in pre-packaged snack-size servings that are as safe to pass out as fun-sized candy bars. Unless you’re handing out treats to people you know who also know you, it’s probably best to avoid distributing home-made or home-packaged treats.

You don’t even have to give out food. Young children also enjoy prizes like stickers, unsharpened pencils with favorite characters on them, erasers and little puzzles or games.

What about the treats your children bring home? That’s where moderation comes into play. They don’t have to eat everything in one night. On Halloween night, let them pick out a few favorites to enjoy. Then divide the loot into smaller servings to have as snacks for weeks to come.