Infographic: For American Children, Every Day is Halloween
The spookiest thing about Halloween has nothing to do with witches, vampires or ghosts. It's the fact that for many Americans—especially children—the sugar binge never stops. Average sugar consumption in the U.S. is far above the levels recommended by health experts such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization.
Our graphic uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2009-2010 (the most recent years for which the data are publicly available). That study found that American children between the ages of 2 and 19 consumed 124 grams of sugar, or 29 teaspoons, every day. Teenage boys in particular (age 12-19) consume an average of 161 grams—or nearly three-quarters of a cup—of sugar daily.
The "fun size" Halloween candies shown in the graphic contain 9 grams of sugar each, so matching the average teenage boy's daily added sugar consumption would require eating 18 of them.
This number becomes even scarier when you consider that it’s an average, not a maximum—so while some American teenagers are probably consuming less sugar than this, that means that some are consuming even more.
The federal government recommends that all Americans eat less sugar and fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal. And in 2010, Congress passed legislation that improved the nutritional standards for school lunches. Though these standards were a good start, too many kids are still eating poorly.
Congress was expected to reauthorize the taxpayer-subsidized school lunch program in 2015. But the House of Representatives has threatened to roll back the 2010 standards, and legislation is currently stalled. To join UCS in working for a stronger school lunch program and other policies that can help American kids eat healthier food, go to ucsusa.org/halloweeneveryday.