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Originally published October 30, 2012 at 7:50 PM | Page modified October 30, 2012 at 7:56 PM

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Stay healthy, safe on Halloween

The trick to keeping the treat pounds off and helping kids be safe on Halloween.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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What's scarier on Halloween than ghosts and goblins? The sugar high and added pounds that can come after.

I know, I know, it's not that different from, say, Thanksgiving and Christmas for overindulging.

But, doctors say, the calories, fat and sugar content of a typical bag of Halloween treats can hold the equivalent to 4,800 calories, 1 ½ cups of fat and three cups of sugar.

Dr. Jim Fortenberry, pediatrician in chief at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, says they have done the math.

And while parents can become fixated on tainted treats, Fortenberry said that isn't his primary concern.

"I worry more about injuries related to falls and motor vehicles, which remain the leading cause of injury to kids that night."

In fact, he said, children ages 5-14 are more likely to be killed or injured while walking on Halloween than on any other evening of the year.

Add to that the long-term effect too much candy can have on children's weight, and you have far more than a bag of treats.

Trisha Hardy, a registered dietitian and director of child wellness at Children's, agreed. One of the biggest mistakes Hardy said people make is allowing kids to skip dinner before trick-or-treating.

"It makes them hungrier, and they'll want to eat even more candy," she said.

Before the kids head out, Hardy also recommends parents set a limit on the amount of candy their little ghosts can eat and have a plan in place for what to do later with their bounty.

"It sets the expectations beforehand, and you're not having that fight when you get home," she said.

HOW TO AVOID WEIGHT GAIN

• Moderation is key. Collect the Halloween candy from your kids after trick-or-treating and allow them to have one or two pieces per day.

• Offer to "buy back" candy from your kids in exchange for a toy.

• Provide plenty of water with sweets, and set aside time to be active to help burn the extra calories.

TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE

• Avoid costumes with excessive flowing fabric that can easily brush up against an open flame, and catch on fire.

• Make sure the costume fits properly. Oversized costumes and big shoes can cause falls. Avoid hats and loose-fitting masks that will slide over the eyes.

• Accessorize with flexible props, such as rubber swords or knives.

• Choose brightly colored costumes that drivers can spot easily or decorate costumes with reflective tape and stickers.

• Always supervise children younger than 13; attach their name, address and phone number to their clothes. Older children should trick-or-treat in groups and carry a cellphone.

• Visit well-lit houses and remain on the porch. Teach children to cross the street only at crosswalks or intersections; never between parked cars and always after looking both ways. Avoid shortcuts across backyards or alleys. Use flashlights.

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