Halloween Candy Nutrition Calories, Grams, Ratios and Budget

Instead of ruining the funnest night of the year with “don’t do candy” proclamations, I always like to educate the Mathletes on responsible candy consumption. The national average consumed by children on Halloween is approximately 3000 calories just in candy. Of course, it tapers off during the year but this is alarmingly high. The daily budget of a 6-7 year old low active male is 1,600 calories per day. So consuming 3000 empty calories is almost twice the daily budget. 


First, I had the Mathletes determine their daily budget of calories based on age, gender, and activity level. The three activity levels are Sedentary (couch potato, less than 30 minutes of activity per day), Low Active is 30-60 minutes of activity per day, and Active Level is over 60 minutes of activity per day. Each level adds or subtracts about 150-400 calories in your budget. Most children in my classes seem to be very healthy and so probably consume right around their budget levels each day. It is when we get older that we need to make sure we are not over or under budget on average. Yes, under budget is not good either since your body burns fat at a slower rate. And finally, the quality of calories are probably most important and we will push that discussion to another lesson.


Second, I showed the children a graphic of the 29 most popular candies and their health rank. Twizzlers rank the lowest in quality and SweeTarts rank the highest.


Third, I showed them a list of 21 Halloween treats under 100 calories. For example, 29 M&Ms is 99 calories. Then I had them develop a 300 candy calorie budget (10% of the national average consumed) for Halloween night and finally tried to encourage them to be under 100 candy calories per day going forward (my wife, the pediatrician I respect most in the world, recommends under 100 calories 3 times per week max). Parents, this is your call. For my own budget, I started with 15 M&Ms which is the average number in a Fun Pack and estimated 50 calories. Then I added 2 Hershey’s Kisses (45 cal.), 2 Mini Reeses (86 cal.), 2 Tootsie Roll Midgees (46 cal.), and 1 Kit Kat Bar Mini (70 cal.). This gave me a total of 297 calories. 

Fourth, I took pictures of 43 different candy nutritional labels that I give out for Halloween. I had the children graph the total calories in a serving, total grams, and then separately fat, carbohydrate, and protein grams (these three categories add up to total grams, usually with one gram remaining for sodium and cholesterol).


The 5th-7th graders, I had them come up with ratios of calories to total grams for each candy using approximation and simplifying fractions to determine the healthiest candy. I believe that Haribo Gold Bears 100 calories and 30 grams had the lowest calorie to gram ratio of 3.3 repeating vs. Hershey's Milk Chocolate with a ratio of 5.1.


The children can have fun exploring the math in Halloween candy as they wish. They could just read through the statistics and ask you good questions, they could create a 100 and 300 calorie budget for the future, they could graph all 43 candies with calories and grams, find calorie/gram ratios, and create their own budgets of candy consumption.

Halloween_Candy_Nutrition_Calories_Grams_Ratios_and_Budget.pdf22.24 MB