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Press Release

Media Contact: Cheryl Monkhouse
(404) 842-8516

WHAT’S IN YOUR BAG? This Halloween, the Trick is to Limit the Treats

“Trick-or-Treat, give me something GOOD to eat!”

ATLANTA – October 23, 2012 – Nowadays what constitutes ‘good’ when it comes to Halloween treats? If you ask kids (and many adults) they will probably say candy. But, there are other fun ways to experience the ‘treats’ of the season in a healthier way.

“Do we really want our kids coming home and devouring their entire sack full of candy, cookies and other high-calorie treats in a night or two? That’s not only a recipe for a stomach ache, but it also a missed opportunity to help our kids learn about moderation and balanced diets,” asked Peter Holtgrave, national coordinator for CATCH Healthy Habits, an intergenerational program run by the OASIS Institute (OASIS) that encourages healthy eating and active living for kids of all ages. Funded locally by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation, CATCH Healthy Habits teaches children about WHOA (unhealthy), SLOW (less healthy) and GO (healthy) foods, and encourages them to stick to healthier GO food options.

“An occasional candy binge is okay, but parents need to monitor how many, and how quickly, the sweets their children collect in that trick-or-treat bag get eaten,” Holtgrave added. “We also encourage neighbors to consider adding healthier options or toys to their Halloween giveaway lineup.”

Childhood obesity has reached critical levels in the U.S., with more than one-third of children and adolescents overweight or obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is why OASIS, a national education organization, is urging adults everywhere to change their Halloween habits when it comes to trick-or-treating.

OASIS offers these suggestions for a healthier approach to trick-or-treating:
1. Instead of candy, consider handing out some of these fun alternatives:
   • Small boxes of raisins 
   • Graham or goldfish crackers 
   • Small bottles of water.
   • Sugar-free gum
   • Pretzels 
   • Un-popped bags of natural popcorn
   • Sugar-free fruit treats
   • Non-refrigerated tube packaged yogurts
   • Small bags of trail mix or nuts*
   • Sunflower or pumpkin seeds*
2. Skip the food treats and give out other items, such as pencils, erasers, stickers, plastic rings, plastic wristbands, Play-Doh, playing cards or other small toys.
3. Help encourage more physical activity by handing out Frisbees, balls or other sports-related items instead of candy.
4. Consider small denomination gift cards to online stores that allow the recipient to download a new ringtone or song.

Holtgrave urges parents to help their kids develop a healthy approach when it comes to consuming their Halloween haul. “Put a limit on how many sweets they can eat in a day. Take the candy out of the bag and place it in a large bowl in a visible location where you can easily monitor how fast it is being eaten. Require that the child eat one healthy item — a piece of fruit, for example — for every piece of candy consumed. That will fill them up faster and keep them healthier.”

Holtgrave also warned parents not to fall off the healthy wagon themselves. “It’s easy to nibble on left-over treats or to eat those treats your child may not like, but that’s not good for you either,” he said. “If you start out with healthier alternatives, you won’t be tempted after the fact.”

CATCH Healthy Habits pairs adult volunteers, ages 50 and older, with children in kindergarten through the fifth grade to encourage healthier eating and physical activity. Weekly one-hour sessions include active games, healthy snacks and education about food choices that will help anyone reach their goals. OASIS partners with local schools, youth clubs and other organizations to bring the program to Georgia’s children. Locally, OASIS offers the program through the Atlanta Regional Commission Area Agency on Aging.  

To learn more about CATCH Healthy Habits programs in the Atlanta area or to volunteer for a program, please visit:

*Please note that some children may have nut allergies.

About the OASIS Institute
OASIS is a national education organization dedicated to enriching the lives of adults age 50 and older through lifelong learning and service. Offering stimulating programs in the arts, humanities, health, technology and volunteer service, OASIS brings people together to learn, lead and contribute in their communities. The OASIS Institute is nationally headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. For more information, visit

About the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation
Through charitable grant making, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation.  The Foundation also coordinates the company’s annual associate giving campaign and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association®. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia is available at Also, follow us on Twitter at, on Facebook at, visit our YouTube channel at or check out the Our Health Connects Us campaign site at