The UK's soon-to-be addled army of kids in their Halloween costumes are set to consume around 16-times their recommended daily sugar intake as a result of their ever-growing trick-or-treat hauls, a new study has revealed.
With thousands gearing up for what is on course to be one of the most calorific evenings of the year later today, a new survey from leading parenting resource Families Online has shown that almost three in four children will come how with more than 30 treats each, leading 54% of parents to admit that they are indeed worried about the amount of sugar their little ones will eat.
Growing in popularity every year, this Halloween will see 83% of parents with children up to the age of 12 years head out in search of treats, with almost 50% spending at least an hour knocking on doors and more than a third travelling to other areas and neighbourhoods outside their own in search of trick-or-treating ‘havens’.
“Trick or treating is becoming increasingly popular today, children love getting dressed up and the lure of bringing home a bucket-full of sweets and treats makes it all the experience more appealing for little ones," said Faye Mingo, Marketing Director at Families Online.
"Sugar overload is obviously a concern for many parents too, so it’s likely that many will try and stagger the intake of sweets over the next week or so!" Faye added. "Safety continues to be important to parents with most agreeing that children should be accompanied while trick or treating and to only knock on doors where trick or treating is welcome.”
Despite the UK's keen adoption of the American tradition of trick-or-treating, a stubborn 17% of parents say that they boycott the holiday, believing it is wrong to encourage children to accept sweets from strangers and that many people don’t like having people knocking on their doors all evening.
And with children between the ages of four and 10 already reported to be consuming double the daily recommended level of sugar according to Public Health England, many point out that Halloween's normalisation of an increased intake of what should be an indulgent treat is dangerous.
The event also comes with a financial weight as well, with 69% of parents spending up to £15 per child on costumes this year and 5% hitting the £20 threshold, while other more thrifty parents say they don't spend a thing (11%) and that they make the costumes themselves.
Top tips from Families Online for managing sugar intake this Halloween:
- Don’t trick or treat on an empty stomach, have dinner before you go so there is less room for sweets.
- Reduce your child’s sugar intake in the lead up to Halloween if you know they will over indulge.
- Set a time limit for trick or treating, 30 minutes knocking on doors will reduce the amount of sweets that can be collected in that time.
- Agree a treat plan with your child ahead of Halloween (such as choosing one treat per day) and stagger sweets throughout the next few weeks rather than in one go.
- Use Halloween as a learning opportunity for your child to manage his/her sweets stash, how long can you make them last? (Set a challenge and fun reward).
- Create a healthy relationship with food and treats by allowing your child the freedom to pick a few sweets to eat on returning from trick or treating but then agree to spread them out after that day.
- Let your child help to share out a small selection of treats into several different bags or pots and then they can choose one bag each day – they will feel in control of their sweets and will have something to look forward to each day while you are spreading the intake.