Rethinking Halloween With SAAD


The variety of Halloween costumes available for babies is amazing. Here are only a few of the food items a baby can be disguised as: taco, banana, chili pepper, hamburger, hot dog, pizza slice, lobster, roast turkey, ketchup packet, gingerbread man, Tootsie Roll. It wasn’t easy to find a picture of a baby dressed up like a vegetable.

Dr. Pretlow says,

Changing Halloween would be a godsend for overweight kids and do a lot for prevention of sugar addiction in youth.

He has found that Halloween “treats” definitely contribute to childhood obesity, both in getting kids hooked on highly pleasurable food and in sabotaging their efforts to control their weight. Weigh2Rock has polled obese kids about this, and found that Halloween is one of their worst days. In another poll inquiring about the biggest problem foods, chocolate and candy were at the top of the list. And Halloween is all about candy. Could it be any other way, and still be fun?

Jill Escher, author of Farewell, Club Perma-Chub: A Sugar Addict’s Guide to Easy Weight Loss, believes that a sugarless holiday is totally possible. A list of Halloween solutions can be found at the website named for her project, Sugar Addiction Awareness Day (SAAD). Please do proceed to the SAAD site for a ton of awareness-enhancing and consciousness-raising info about this very widespread form of food addiction.

Meanwhile, we share some of the alternatives here:

• Instead of candy, hand out pencils, toys, books, stickers, glow-in-the-dark sticks or necklaces, masks, fortunes without the cookies, funny jewelry, small school supplies, quarters, or other fun alternatives.
• Hand out rubber wristbands/bracelets or buttons with custom messages such as ‘I’m a Sugar-Free Kid’ or ‘Say Boo to Junk Food.’
• Work with other families on your block to turn yours into a candy-free street.
• Take the ‘Sugar Is Spooky’ Challenge and have your whole family go sugar-free on Halloween and the following week.

Elsewhere on the site Escher tells how the sugar-free Halloween idea got started, and, incidentally, quotes Dr. Pretlow:

Kids eat junk food because it tastes good and is readily available, but, in the process their brains develop changes to keep the behavior going, which eventually may result in being unable to stop eating the foods, i.e., an actual addiction.

Here’s a video interview, conducted by Kimberly Chase, with the coordinator of SAAD, in which Escher laughingly asserts that Sugar Addiction Awareness Day being the day before Halloween is purely coincidental. She does hope it will catch on, and is encouraged by the physicians, clinicians, nutritionists, and researchers who have volunteered to help out.

Many notable individuals are supporting Sugar Addiction Awareness Day, including Nicole Avena, Connie Bennett, Zoe Harcombe, Ashley Gearhardt, Gary Taubes, Jacob Teitelbaum and, of course, Dr. Pretlow.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “How to Participate,”
Source: “Jill Escher, Author, Farewell, Club Perma-Chub,”
Image by Invisible Hour, used under its Creative Commons license.

2 Responses

  1. The top, most popular, infant costume for Halloween is a pumpkin. The peapod costume shown in your article is also extremely popular. Junk food costumes are cute, but not all that common if you look through neighborhoods on Halloween night. It amazes me that pumpkin costumes have continued to be so popular across several decades. I think that’s pretty cool.

    I definitely agree with the part about alternate treats. I give out Halloween themed pencils, plastic spider rings, plastic vampire teeth, mini glow sticks, Halloween shaped pretzels, temporary tattoos, or other little things. Discount stores sell tons of different Halloween themed goodies. My house has never been egged or toilet papered due to lack of sugary treats, either 🙂 Kids seem really excited to get fancy pencils and toys. I think for kids the fun part is getting a bag full of free stuff. They aren’t upset if some houses give out non-edibles.

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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