Trick or Treat: How Scary Is Your Halloween Candy?

bowl of halloween candy

Every year Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy for Halloween, generating nearly $2 billion of revenue for confection companies and plenty of extra calories for consumers. So what does this mean for our health? 

AICR recommends limiting processed foods like candy -- high in calories and sugar (and often added fat). It’s okay to have an occasional treat, but candy, desserts, pastries, and packaged sweets are common and available all year round. And that easy access means children and adults are at risk for gaining weight and having overweight and obesity – a major risk factor for 12 types of cancer. 

So before you raid your child's candy bucket, let's put those extra calories into perspective.

*Keep in mind that AICR doesn't recommend setting exercise goals as a way to "counteract" overeating. That can lead to unhealthy attitudes toward eating and physical activity. Rather, use this information as a reminder of how quickly these foods can add up to provide excess calories. Savor small amounts without letting a bagful tempt you to overdo.

Choice 1: Reese’s Pumpkin

With more calories per candy than almost any other branded candy bar of similar size, just one of these decadent pumpkins will set you back 170 calories. This would take you 42 minutes of walking to burn those calories. Or if you pushed a stroller, those calories are equivent to about 25 minutes of walking. 

Choice 2: Candy Corn

Candy corn is a staple of the season and 19 pieces weigh in around 140 calories. That’s about 7 calories per kernel. On average, taking with a 35-minute walk burns around 140 calories. 

Choice 3: Marshmallow Ghosts

Much like their spring counterpart, the Peep, these marshmallow sweets are mostly sugar. A serving of 3 marshmallow ghosts is 110 calories, which means you could always just have one (yes, you can) for only 37 calories. To burn it off, give you little-legged ghost a break and carry him for 11 minutes.

Choice 4: Kit Kat

A snack-size Kit Kat has about 70 calories and less sugar than the mallows. Jumping up repeatedly to answer the doorbell for trick-or-treaters will negate that fun size in just 21 minutes. Keep the bowl near the door so you won’t be tempted to dip into your own candy.

Choice 5: Tootsie Roll

Love them or hate them, Tootsie Rolls have been found in candy buckets for generations. They’re too small to have individual nutrition facts on the wrappers, but a serving of three is 70 calories. Instead of sitting around, you must be moderately active for 15 minutes to burn off just 3 of them. Throw out anything that’s unwrapped, homemade or that you would like to eat later (we won’t tell).

Healthy Halloween

If you want to cut back your family's candy consumption this year, there are delicious, easy alternatives to snack on. Try one of these options that you can make at home:

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Apple Chips 

Maple Walnut Granola

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

For more Halloween tips, check out what registered dietitians hand out for the holiday.


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