No Trick to Halloween Sweet Treats

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 General News
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 If this year's Halloween is like thosepast, some 36 million children(1), aged five to thirteen years, are poised todon costumes to go trick-or-treating. And while it is a holiday whenAmericans focus on sweet treats, registered dietitian Kris Clark, Ph.D., ofPennsylvania State University, says that Halloween is a perfect time to clearup confusion about the role of sweets in the diet and misconceptions aboutdifferent sweeteners.

In 2005, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommendedlimiting so-called "discretionary" calories to about 200 per day for adultsand about 180 calories daily for youngsters aged nine to thirteen years.Sweet treats fall in that category, according to Dr. Clark.

"No one says that it's smart to eat a lot of these foods," Dr. Clark says."But an occasional treat can be allowed. And Halloween is one of those dayswhen it's fine to enjoy a few treats."

Dr. Clark adds that the sweeteners used in many Halloween treats arenearly identical. "High fructose corn syrup and table sugar both contain thesame four calories per gram and are metabolized the same way in the body," shesays. "And, I agree with the Food and Drug Administration's decision that highfructose corn syrup can be used in 'natural' labeled products."

Dr. Clark also concurs with the recent finding by the American MedicalAssociation that "high fructose syrup does not appear to contribute to obesitymore than other caloric sweeteners."

"Many accusations today rely on speculation that tries to link singleingredients, including sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, toobesity," said Dr. Clark. "All Americans are eating more of everything --it's the excess calories and sedentary lifestyle that are having the greatestimpact."

A recent, national survey(2) of 400 mothers finds that many worry mostabout individual ingredients -- rather than calories -- in their children'sfood. When asked what they are concerned about when buying food for theirchildren, half responded with sugar (50%) and high fructose corn syrup (49%),while only one quarter cited the caloric content of food.

Find more science-based information on sweeteners at

CRA is the national trade association representing the corn refining (wetmilling) industry of the United States. CRA and its predecessors have servedthis important segment of American agribusiness since 1913. Corn refinersmanufacture sweeteners, ethanol, starch, bioproducts, corn oil, and feedproducts from corn components such as starch, oil, protein, and fiber.To help keep Halloween fun and healthy, Dr. Clark recommends: Swap dark chocolate for milk chocolate. It provides more flavor to help satisfy young and old taste buds, plus it's got antioxidants, which have a variety of health benefits, including boosting immunity. Control portions with 100-calorie snack packs. Provide pre-packaged 100-calorie servings of your favorite cookies, crackers and snack mixes. Sneak in some protein. Protein helps moderate blood sugar from rising fast after eating. So look for treats with nuts or peanut butter. Small packages of commercially prepared trail mix are another option. Add fruit. Chocolate-covered or yogurt-covered raisins or other dried fruit are easy ways to boost nutritional value. Consider non-food treats. Toss stickers, removable tattoos, sport or character cards, bracelets or necklaces to the trick-or-treat bowl or basket, then let kids choose for themselves.

SOURCE Corn Refiners Association

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