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Keeping Halloween Fun & Healthy

Halloween can be for the whole family, but most of the treats collected as kids trick or treat aren’t exactly the healthiest choices. Although a few pieces of candy are fine, one study by the University of Alabama-Birmingham estimates that the average kid may accumulate 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night. Forget needing a scary costume -- those numbers are frightening in themselves! 

Children from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia schools participate in Halloween festivities at the North Portico of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

It is possible to make Halloween fun for kids, without going overboard on the sweets: 

1. Fill up before you head out: Give your kids a healthy meal before they go trick-or-treating. They’ll be less likely to eat all the sweets they collect throughout the evening.

2. Hand out healthier alternatives to candy: Offer trick-or-treaters fun, hand-sized fruit (like clementines or mini apples) and trail mix. Tie a ribbon around the treats to make them look festive and fun.

3. Instead of food, offer trick or treaters cool toys: Stickers and glow sticks are always popular, and this year you can even give out coupons for the computer game Plants vs. Zombies—the American Dental Association is offering the coupons for free as part of their Stop Zombie Mouth campaign. Many kids will enjoy these toys just as much as a candy bar, plus they’ll last longer. 

4. Add some physical activity to the night: Encourage your children to walk from house to house instead of driving them. Start up a friendly competition to see who can get to the most houses and walk the farthest.

5. Teach your kids moderation: Let them enjoy a few pieces of candy, but not all of it. Put the rest out of sight so your children are not constantly reminded that it's there.