Thursday, October 24, 2013

Increase of Halloween candy sales worries Monash Public Health specialist

Trick or treat, or just trick?

While all of us here in the OzTREKK office love our Halloween candy (everything in moderation, of course!), we acknowledge that there is a “candy crisis” in North America: too much of a good thing can cause health risks.

According to an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia, Halloween may constitute a serious public health risk to Australian children.

Public health specialist Dr Nathan Grills, from Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, said Halloween was an imported American celebration that was being exploited by confectionery companies both in the US and in Australia.
Monash School of Public Health
OzTREKK’s Halloween candy stash
The Monash University Public Health School specialist noted that 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.

“In 2012, leading Australian supermarkets recorded increases of up to thirty per cent in sales of such merchandise in the lead-up to Halloween.”

The authors reported that targeted advertising of confectionery toward children has been shown to encourage consumption of ultra-processed products high in salt, sugar and fat, contributing to overweight and obesity levels in children.

Candy is not the only public health hazard of Halloween, according to the authors. Food allergies, contaminated food, food-borne disease, burns and house fires from jack-o-lanterns, and a fourfold increase in the rate of children being struck by cars are among the other dangers.

“Australians should be aware that profit-driven corporate manipulation of our cultural choices could damage our health. Instead, we should promote healthy and family-friendly events that are consistent with our own cultural identity,” Dr Grills and his coauthor said. “As we consider the rising popularity of Halloween among Australian children, we should ask ourselves: who is being tricked, and who is being treated?”

Monash University Public Health School

The Master of Public Health at Monash University is a 12-unit public health program provides students with the full range of quantitative, analytical and communication skills necessary to work in the broad domain of public health. It especially focuses on developing skills in the quantitative methods of the population-based health sciences and their problem-solving application for primary care provision both in Australia and for developing countries.

Program: Master of Public Health
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Semester intake: February
Duration: 1.5 years
Application deadline: While there is no set application deadline for this public health program, applicants are strongly encouraged by Monash University to submit their applications a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.

Entry Requirements: Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree. With an application, students should also submit a 250-word statement of purpose outlining their area of interest and the reason why they would like to complete the course, and an updated curriculum vitae/resume outlining relevant work experience.

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