Beyond Halloween

We enjoyed meeting the scream with candyPediatric media expert Dr. Don Shifrin, whose interviews have appeared in numerous publications including Good Housekeeping, the Wall Street Journal, and Time blogs. Today he writes about the “fifth season” of the year. 
—Drs. Kardos and Lai

Pleading with children not to eat too much candy on Halloween borders on sacrilege. So when a USA Today headline blares, “Scary amount of candy will be consumed on Halloween,” it strikes us as proclaiming the obvious. Or does it? A candy industry analyst states that almost four percent of the yearly total for candy consumption in the US occurs on All Hallows Eve. And that “frightens doctors.”

“Why?” you might ask.

The article then goes on to give parents several parent-tested hints regarding ways to minimize candy gluttony during and after October 31.

But friends, here’s what scares me as a Pediatrician: thanks to the demonic coalition between the candy industry, advertising media, and retailers, Halloween is just the appetizer to a 6-plus month buffet of sugar laden offerings.

The main course closely follows with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Followed closely by the twin desserts of Valentine’s Day and Easter. We can get our M&Ms in all seasonal colors from scary to pastels to match each holiday. That’s over 6 months of intensive and impressive candy packaging, marketing, and buying by our nation’s most vulnerable and vocal customers- our children. I picture the wolf saying to Little Red Riding Hood, “The better to sell you, my dear.”

So parents, good luck trying to avoid the candy aisles from October through April. Here’s my perspective on the real scary part of Halloween. It signals the beginning of a newly created season, lasting from fall through spring: America’s Candy Season.

And the scariest part? It’s not just McDonald’s anymore. Groceries, drug stores, warehouse clubs, and convenience stores now join the list of places YOU can get supersized.

Don Shifrin, MD

©2013 Two Peds in a Pod®

Dr. Shifrin is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, and has practiced at Pediatrics Associates, Inc, PS. in Bellevue, Washington, for 35 years. He is past Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Communications—a committee which recognizes and evaluates the physical, mental, and social impact of positive and negative messages communicated to children from the media. 

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