Mercy Doc Pleads Skip the Sugary Treats this Halloween

Dr. Jeannine Cobb, obesity medicine physician,
treats her Halloween guests to healthy snacks,
like peanuts, raisins, cheese sticks and jerky.

While Halloween comes just once a year, physicians warn the candy intake frenzy synonymous with trick-or-treating is just part of an alarming pattern of poor nutrition choices creating a health crisis for our children.

“Talk about scary,” said Mercy Clinic’s Dr. Jeannine Cobb, a certified obesity medicine physician. “Obesity in our kiddos is reaching epidemic status. In fact, many health experts predict today’s children will be the first generation in America to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents – due in large part to chronic obesity and its complications.”
 
A grandmother of nine who has persevered through her own battle with obesity, Dr. Cobb is passionate about teaching others how to make healthy lifestyle choices and set good examples for the little ones who look up to them. She campaigns vehemently against sugary, empty-calorie, low-nutrition foods. Traditional Halloween candy ranks at the top of her list of offenders.
 
“Typical Halloween candy is nothing but sugar disguised in many forms,” said Dr. Cobb. “It basically has no redeeming value whatsoever. In fact, sugar and starch in the diets of our children are putting them at risk for all the diseases which were long thought to be limited to obese adults, such as type 2 diabetes which now affects more than 500,000 children in the United States.”
 
Other bad habits luring our children into the nutritional danger zone, according to Dr. Cobb:
  • Drinking sodas and juices loaded with sugar
  • Eating too many processed foods containing high fructose corn syrup – cookies, chips, ice cream and candies
  • Regular consumption of white flour products (pasta, pizza, etc.) and starchy vegetables like potatoes
  • Eating fast food
  • Snacking late at night
  • Not getting enough physical activity to offset calorie intake
  • Not getting enough sleep
 She noted that research shows children hang onto their bad habits as they grow. Children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults.
 
“I know parents are often overwhelmed as it is, and to throw in an expectation that they learn everything there is to know about childhood nutrition is unrealistic,” she said. “But simply monitoring these habits and steering kids in a healthier direction can make a big difference in their health not only today, but down the road. And it’s important to remember that parents – and grandparents – are the role models. We have to lead by example.”
 
A good place to start is under the front porch light this Halloween, said Dr. Cobb, noting there are many healthier alternatives for the trick-or-treat bowl this year, including: raisins, dried fruits, sugar-free gum and mints, cheese sticks, jerky, granola and sunflower seeds.
 
“Don’t worry if they turn up their noses at a packet of dried fruit,” she said. “We have to start somewhere to turn around this frightening trend. You’ll feel better knowing you’ve sent the right message to your trick-or-treaters, and their parents may even thank you.”
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