Kevin Farmer

The science is in - Halloween is dangerous for kids

HALLOWEEN may be a health risk for Australian children, a leading health expert has warned.

A report published today in the The Medical Journal of Australia highlights the dangers of unhealthy eating, allergies, contaminated food, food-borne diseases, burns, house fires and the risk of being hit by a car - all of which are linked to Halloween.

An article on the Monash University website quotes public health specialist Dr Nathan Grills as saying  Halloween is an American celebration that is being exploited by confectionery companies.

"In the US each year, US$8 billion is spent on Halloween-related items, including US$2.4 billion on confectionery, a number that exceeds sales at Easter, Christmas and Valentine's Day," the site quotes Dr Grills as saying.

"In 2012, leading Australian supermarkets recorded increases of up to 30% in sales of such merchandise in the lead-up to Halloween."

The authors of the report  say the advertising of confectionery encourages consumption of ultra-processed products high in salt, sugar and fat, contributing to overweight and obesity levels in children.

Among the more hidden dangers cited are the risk of burns and house fires from pumpkins used as jack-o'-lanterns.

A fourfold increase in the rate of children being struck by cars is also reported.

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