Coronavirus Chronicles: The Demise of Halloween As We Know It?

Word association test: The cue is “Halloween.” The first thing that comes to mind for most Americans is candy, right? Candy is made from sugar. Evidence strongly connects sugar with a weak and suppressed immune system. A feeble immune system is not a particularly good thing to have in the midst of a pandemic, even one that a bunch of people want to pretend doesn’t exist.

Of course, this year, the spookyscape will be very different in many communities. Children may not be traipsing from house to house. Residents may not want just anybody coughing on their porches. While mourning the probable loss of the neighborhood trick-or-treat custom, we tend to forget another tradition that thrives in some places. Grownups organize events at senior centers and assisted living facilities, where kids can parade around the common area in their costumes, and maybe even collect some treats. The custom is unlikely to be widely observed this year, or perhaps ever again.

Go haunt yourself

The usual sources of much seasonal enjoyment will be gone. Schools and other institutions will not be having parties unless they don’t care much about lawsuits or human life. Haunted houses are not advised. If any parents are incautious enough to throw a party for the kids, surely they will not be bobbing for apples. Anyone who has the technology would probably be smart to skip the party and organize a virtual costume contest instead.

If there must be a group activity, let it be outdoors, distanced, and masked. Under the right circumstances, jack-o-lantern carving is said to be pretty safe. (For little kids, little pumpkins and markers.) Some experts say that visiting a pumpkin patch could be okay. An outdoor costume parade might be pretty low-risk. We spoke recently of some not-recommended, high-risk activities. Some parents are under extreme pressure to cave in and relax their isolation standards. Much compassion should be extended toward them.

The mole people

The safest of all is staying at home. Have a scary movie night with popcorn. Some parents are lucky enough to be in control of how much candy comes through the doors this season. To add a little pizzazz to the evening, they might borrow from the Easter egg hunt tradition and somehow divert the kids’ attention while they hide treats all around the living space.

A person might expect that all previous Childhood Obesity News posts about this holiday are devoted to emphasizing how disgusting it is to allow children a candy feast. But a person would be mistaken! Many, many articles from this collection are about candy avoidance, and a big part of that topic is alternate activities. Lots of people have made very inspired suggestions about how to do things that are so much fun, the kids forget to miss the sugar orgy. Type “Halloween” into the search box on this website, and have a creativity festival instead.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Pat Hartman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

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.

Food & Health Resources