Kids say yes to Halloween, OK to something besides candy

This Halloween, kids are opening up and sharing some of their views and perceptions of time-honored holiday traditions.

It’s all part of “Stop Zombie Mouth”: a collaboration between the American Dental Association and PopCap Games, makers of the family-friendly video game Plants vs. Zombies. In the months leading up to Halloween, dentists have been distributing trading cards to kids that are good for free downloads of Plants vs. Zombies as a fun alternative to sugary snacks.

There is evidence that a significant number of kids are primed for these types of changes to Halloween, too.

The ADA Oct. 24 released the results of a survey designed to learn more about U.S. children’s views on candy, trick-or-treating and whether they consider non-candy gifts “treats.” Some of the findings of the survey of kids age 5 to 13 include:

  • about 94 percent of all American children participate in trick-or-treating;
  • 65 percent of them consider Halloween the best holiday of the year;
  • two-thirds of kids surveyed agree they eat too much candy around Halloween;
  • 89 percent say they would still like the holiday if it was less about candy and more about her types of fun;
  • 93 percent of kids would prefer to receive a video game instead of candy while trick-or-eating;
  • among all children surveyed, the three most-liked Halloween activities were trick-or-treating 5 percent), dressing up in a costume (71 percent) and “getting lots of candy” (66 percent);
  • more than three-fourths of kids agree with the statement “too much candy is bad for me”;
  • two-thirds say they eat too much candy around Halloween;
  • girls (82 percent) were somewhat more likely to respond in the affirmative to “too much candy bad for me” compared to 74 percent of boys;
  • 42 percent of kids said they worry about getting cavities from eating too much candy around Halloween.

So what does it all mean? Naturally, kids enjoy celebrating Halloween, but they don’t always require candy.

“Children themselves are asking us as adults to help curb sugary snacks,” said the ADA in a news release about the survey.

“The Stop Zombie Mouth campaign is an excellent way to bring together an alternative treat for Halloween with an opportunity to increase awareness among parents and children about the benefits that practicing good oral hygiene can have on overall health. Learning and practicing good oral hygiene habits now will pay dividends later in life.”

The ADA encourages extra vigilance on Halloween. Kids can enjoy the holiday but parents should remember to take a few steps to keep their teeth healthy. These include brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush; using an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste; cleaning between teeth once a day with dental floss or an interdental cleaner to get rid of tooth decay-causing bacteria lingering between teeth; eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks; and visiting a dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tips for a Healthy Diet

  • Foods high in sugar are a particularly common cause of tooth decay. Making these foods a treat rather than a staple will help protect your teeth.

  • To maintain a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups.

  • When choosing a snack, go for nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit.