As a kid, Halloween was my second favorite holiday, right after Christmas. Whenever October came around, I would always look forward to picking out the perfect costume at Party City with my mom, watching Hocus Pocus on Disney Channel, trick-or-treating around our neighborhood, and trading Skittles for Kit Kat bars with my little brother. Of course, the best part was all that candy I hoarded and steadily consumed over the next several months.
Yeah… those were blissful childhood days full of chocolately goodness. But looking back now, it’s a bit concerning just how much sugar I (and practically every little boy and girl in the United States) loaded myself with each year. While I still love Halloween as much as I did growing up, I don’t think the holiday does much to improve the alarmingly high prevalence of childhood obesity. According to most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 17% (or 12.7 million) of children between 2 and 19 years old in the U.S. are obese. Not just overweight… obese. And as you can probably guess, these youth are at a significantly higher risk for many physical, social, and emotional complications.
So why am I rambling on about candy and childhood obesity in my post this week? It’s because University of Maryland School of Pharmacy students at USG have come together to organize their first ever “Healthy Halloween” event next Saturday, October 29th at Rockville Memorial Library. This is an annual tradition that was actually started by students at the main campus in Baltimore. Each year, students from a local elementary school are invited to Pharmacy Hall to engage in interactive activities not just about sugar intake and diabetes, but a variety of other topics that include differences between candy vs. medicine and the importance of regular exercise in maintaining a healthy heart.
If you have young children, siblings, cousins, nieces/nephews, or kids you babysit, consider treating them to an early Halloween celebration! They can dress up (us pharmacy students will be in our costumes too!) and have the opportunity to win fun prizes like Halloween stickers, tattoos, key chains, pencil toppers, and more! One event won’t make a dent in those scary statistics I presented, but it can certainly make an impact in our local community. So tell your friends and help us spread the word. Hope to see you at Rockville Memorial Library next Saturday for some “Healthy Halloween” fun!