Halloween is the holiday that lets children transform themselves into — well, almost anything they choose. That doesn’t mean that they should transform their diets, though.
Trick-or-treating almost inevitably implies excess. It’s hard to believe, but a standard paper shopping bag can hold up to 25 pounds of candy! Though it’s doubtful that most youngsters have the upper body strength that would be required to go from door to door with a 20-plus-pound bag of sweets, it’s still possible for them to end up with a whole lot of candy. And remember that Halloween candy-gorging is not just a one-night event; all the candy not consumed on the last night in October is often given to children in school lunches or as snacks for weeks to come.
Nobody but an old meanie would deny boys and girls some gooey, sugary treats now and then, but when it comes to Halloween candy, some kinds are undeniably more deleterious to their well-being than others.
It’s difficult to make the claim that any candy is truly healthy — almost all varieties qualify, by definition, as foods of minimal nutritional value, meaning they contain less than 5 percent of the recommended daily allowance of eight key nutrients. However, relative to one another, some types of candies are better than others. The criteria necessary to evaluate whether a candy is “healthy” don't lie solely in its nutritionalprofile. The quality of its ingredients, its potential to cause tooth decay, and its irresistibility (promoting a risk of overeating) all contribute to its ranking. For example, a lollipop might be lower in sugar, calories, and fat than a bar of chocolate, but it might help promote cavities, making it a worse option for children than some other treats.
Here’s a ranking of 20 of the most popular Halloween candies, ranked from unhealthiest to, well, comparatively healthiest.