Doncaster parents issued trick or treat advice this Halloween

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Parents are being advised their children could be eating almost five times their recommended daily allowance of sugar from just a handful of Halloween sweets.

Online healthy food retailer MuscleFood.com have alerted mums and dads after carrying out their own research into the alarming amount of sugar in children’s sweets.

They looked at five popular trick or treat sweets, allowing children to eat two packets of each, and discovered they contained a shocking 25 cubes of sugar between them.

Popular jelly sweets carried almost two sugar cubes for just a tiny bag, with some small bags of chocolate treats containing three cubes of sugar.

The stark warning comes as levels of childhood obesity reach record levels in children aged 11.

Current NHS guidelines suggest children between the ages of four to six eat no more than 5 cubes of sugar a day, or 19 grams.

Children aged seven to ten should consume no more than six cubes or 24 grams and those over eleven, are recommended to eat seven cubes or 30 grams.

The healthy food retailer is advising parents that everything in moderation is the key and the sweets will only have a negative impact if they’re consumed in large quantities frequently.

Dietician and MuscleFood.com advisor, Rachel-Anne Hobbs said: “Sugar can be part of a healthy intake, however, eating high amounts of sugar can have negative effects on more than just your waistline. Sugar consumption triggers the release dopamine, the happy hormone in the brain; we start to enjoy that feeling and so we consume more and more sugar to keep experiencing it.

“This rise in dopamine alongside the rise in energy in the blood stream after consuming sugar is sometimes referred to as a 'sugar high' because it initially makes us feel great, but after the sugar has been used or absorbed into our cells, our blood glucose, we start to become jittering, tired and anxious, and low in mood.

“As well as mood, sugar can cause damage to our teeth and may cause inflammation in our body which can increase breakouts in our skin and decrease our immunity which means we can pick up virus' and struggle to recover from illness and injury.”

Rachel continued: “Generally things like Halloween are a one-off event where excess sugar is consumed. Although not optimal for health, it is of benefit to children socially and emotionally to go trick or treating with their friends, so I have no concerns professionally, or as a mum, about kids going all out on sweets once a year.

“The issues arise if children are consistently over consuming nutrient sparse foods; sugar itself isn't "bad", it just doesn't provide any nutrients. If they are choosing sugary, processed foods over foods that are nutrient dense such as wholegrain toast with peanut butter or yoghurts with fruit, then they can become deficient in vitamins and minerals and increase the risk of deficiencies.

“If children regularly ate 25 sugar cubes a day, that equates to about 400 calories, and they consume the rest of the intake in the forms of oily fish, lean proteins wholegrains, pulses and vegetables they probably wouldn't see any ill effects.

“However, not many kids will eat oily fish, wholegrains, pulses and vegetables so it is likely if such a high percentage of intake is going on nutrient sparse sugar, they would struggle to meet their needs.”

Darren Beale from MuscleFood.com said: “The key thing to remember is everything in moderation. A bundle of sweets once a year isn’t going to make a massive difference but if that becomes a weekly or even daily event, then we’re setting up our children for lots of problems in the future.

“There are things parents can be doing to help their children and other children make healthier choices. Including better alternatives in the trick or treat bowl is one small step. Adding things like from out range including the toffee apple flapjacks and protein chocolate bars is an obvious one. Still a great Halloween choice but with a much lower sugar content.”