kids health

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‘Fat Letters’ To Trick-Or-Treaters? Get Real (Also, Halloween Health Tips)

I am typically the Halloween Scrooge. Sure, I love the costumes and neighborhood rituals, but the furious sugar obsession and frenetic hoarding of candy (whatever happened to apples?) makes me crazy.

But not, apparently, as crazy as a woman in North Dakota who apparently plans to hand out “fat letters” to chubby trick-or-treaters who show up at her door, according to a report on Valley News Live.

The news site posts what it says is a copy of the (still anonymous) woman’s Halloween letter which says, in part:

“Your child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season. My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.”

Why bother trying to make a public health statement on Halloween? The anti-fat-kid letter writer tells a local N.D. radio station, “I just want to send a message to the parents of kids that are really overweight… I think it’s just really irresponsible of parents to send them out looking for free candy just ’cause all the other kids are doing it.”

halloween candyWhile I agree with the sentiment here, the Halloween finger-wagging (if true) seems a bit misplaced. I’m not thrilled about my kids getting high on candy corn either, but let’s get some perspective here people: it’s only one day.

Still, for those who want to minimize the kids’ sugar hangover Friday, I’m reprinting our post “Five Halloween Health Tips” written by Boston-area mom and health and wellness coach Nina Manolson:

1. Start The Evening Full

While it’s tempting to just grab a slice of pizza and then run out for trick-or-treating, Nina says it’s critical to feed your kids a generous, protein-rich dinner on Halloween night, including a healthy sweet dessert, like baked apple with cinnamon or a fruit smoothie. This, hopefully, will leave them less vulnerable to the Tootsie Rolls and Laffy Taffy lurking outside.

2. Trading, Sorting And Counting

After collecting vats of candy and calling it a night, it’s time to get down to work. First, Nina has her kids divide their sugar-laden cache into two groups, which she calls, loosely, “Food” and “Nonfood.”

“Nonfood” is anything with high-fructose corn syrup or trans-fat and anything that looks like plastic. (You know those rubbery candies shaped like hamburgers and ice cream cones? Nina says she’s kept one of those around for six years now, jumped on it, kicked it around and it still looks exactly the same.) Continue reading

Why To Exercise Today: For School Kids, Sharper Minds, Ready-To-Learn Bodies

JW Designs/flickr

JW Designs/flickr

Did we really need the lofty body of experts at the Institute of Medicine to tell us this? Could we not have polled any parent of a school-age child, who know so well that an intense round of freeze tag or a vigorous spin on the monkey bars before sitting at a desk makes focusing the brain so, so, so much more manageable?

In any case, here, the government experts chime in. The latest recommendations from the IOM: Kids should have at least 60 minutes a day of vigorous, moderate intensity physical activity — half of which should get done during school hours. To which I say: Amen.

Here are the bullet point recommendations from the report:

•School districts should provide high-quality curricular physical education during which the students should spend at least half of the class-time engaged in vigorous or
moderate-intensity physical activity.
•All elementary school students should spend an average of 30 minutes per day and all middle and high school students an average of 45 minutes per
day in physical education class. (To allow for flexibility in curriculum scheduling, this recommendation is equivalent to 150 minutes per week for elementary school students and 225 minutes per week for middle and high school students.) Continue reading