Great comments following my article on Fed Up with Lunch. One person even called me the God-anointed, self-righteous, candy police! I enjoyed the discussion immensely and wrote a comment of my own to give more context to our efforts. These are important conversations to have in our homes, neighborhoods and online. Where there is passion and energy, there are solutions if it is channeled in the right direction.
It is exciting to see all the comments, both in support and against my efforts of Healthy Halloween House. It indicates that people are passionate about the issues which is far preferable to cold indifference and apathy. So, let's continue the discussion...
I want to give readers some more context about what I am doing as well as a few things to consider. I think it is important to separate out some of the language in the comments so we can address the issue of childhood obesity directly. Healthy Halloween House is a grassroots movement that is not from the government or anointed by God. We are not taking away anyone's candy, rights or childhood. Rather, we are a group of ordinary Americans standing in support of parents, families and neighbors who wish to make an alternate choice and create a healthier environment for our kids.
Given that, I think it is also important to acknowledge two things:
First, Halloween is a nostalgic time for parents. We all have memories of costume-making with the family, going door-to-door, seeing neighbors and friends, finding the best piece of candy in your bag, and going to haunted houses. We want to give that same nostalgic experience to our kids. Who does not wish to pass on the traditions that we hold close?
Second, we live in a different world than we grew up in. In a post-9/11 world, no longer will any child find the joy in running off an airplane into grandma's arms at the gate, no matter how nostalgic. The environment has changed and we have learned to create new ways to connect and bring meaning to our family experiences. We live in a time now where every stranger is seen as a kidnapper and every apple has a razor blade. We don't know our neighbors and we don't trust anyone with our kids except those we pay to care for them. Our environment has changed.
Health-wise, we live in a different world than we grew up in too. According to the National Cancer Institute, three out of four deaths in America are caused by diet-related disease. These diseases are primarily heart disease, cancer, strokes and diabetes. All four of these diseases show up in the top ten causes of death for Americans beginning at age 15 (CDC Health report, 2010). That is not, "my child has high cholesterol or diabetes." Those are causes of death due to preventable, diet-related illnesses that we can choose to contribute to or not every time a child knocks on our door at Halloween.
So, many readers are absolutely correct in saying that a single day like Halloween is not the problem. The problem is that every day is Halloween for our kids as they are continually bombarded with low-cost or free junk food. We can either support that environment for our kids or we can create a healthier one.
This is not about blaming ourselves as the problem. It is about empowering ourselves as the solution... every day, including Halloween. I look forward to your comments.