October 12, 2009 12:01 ET

A Little Pledge Goes a Long Way

This Halloween GOT MILK? Asks Children to Make Healthier Choices

SAN CLEMENTE, CA--(Marketwire - October 12, 2009) - This Halloween, with the help of GOT MILK?, children across California will pledge to not be tricked into bingeing on candy and sweets on All Hallow's Eve. They will set aside the smiling Jack-O-Lantern bucket, which typically hides about 250 pieces of small chocolate bars and candy, amounting to 9,000 calories, 200 grams of fat and 1500 grams of sugar(1). The sad reality is that many kids actually eat their way through the entire bucket! To curb this excess, the California Milk Processor Board -- the creator of GOT MILK? -- encourages children to sign a Healthy Halloween pledge that can be downloaded on www.gotmilk.com to keep sweets in moderation during Halloween, and to consider healthier treats like chocolate milk instead. Those who print, sign and email the pledge back to Halloween@gotmilk.com by Oct. 31, 2009 will receive a surprise GOT MILK? school supplies set in the mail.

"It's important to develop healthy eating habits at a young age," says Steve James, executive director of the CMPB. "By signing the pledge, children are taking responsibility for their health, and the CMPB wants to reward them for their commitment."

According to a study in the September 2009 issue of Academic Pediatrics, severe childhood obesity in the United States has tripled in the last 25 years(2), putting children at risk for health problems. Based on the latest research, there are about 71 million children in the nation ages 2-19 who are obese, of which 2.7 million are considered severely obese, based on the same study(3).

"We don't want to spoil all the fun candy brings to Halloween," says Mary Barbour, a registered dietitian and member of the California Dietetic Association who has worked with children maintaining healthy weight. "The key to preventing problems with weight and diabetes that are plaguing kids today is to keep the consumption of sweets under control -- not only just on Halloween but every day."

To help families, GOT MILK? has collaborated with registered dietitians to develop the top ten strategies for keeping candy consumption in moderation during Halloween, available exclusively on www.gotmilk.com. Health experts say it's important for parents to negotiate with kids beforehand on the number of pieces of candy to be consumed on Halloween. Dietitians say such tips and the ones below can ensure that children have a fun and healthy Halloween.

1. Dinner First. Before trick-or-treating, give children a nutritious dinner with vegetables, whole grains and protein-rich foods topped off with a glass of low fat or nonfat milk. Having a complete meal, registered dietitians say, will reduce children's appetites for sweets.

2. GOT CHOCOLATE MILK? Serving chocolate milk after trick-or-treating is a great, healthy treat. It has calcium, vitamins and other nutrients necessary for growing children. Plus, it doesn't deprive kids of the chocolate that's associated with Halloween.

3. Non-Food Treats. Consider handing out school supplies like pencils and erasers to school age children, as they will come in handy for class. Small toys are also appropriate in reducing the amount of candy children eat during Halloween.

To obtain the GOT MILK? Healthy Halloween pledge and top 10 tips and strategies for a healthy Halloween, visit www.gotmilk.com.

About the CMPB

The California Milk Processor Board was established in 1993 to make milk more competitive and increase milk consumption in California. Awareness of GOT MILK? is over 90 percent nationally and it is considered one of the most important and successful campaigns in history. GOT MILK? is a federally registered trademark that has been licensed by the national dairy boards since 1995. The CMPB's Spanish-language campaign began in 1994 using the tagline "Familia, Amor y Leche" (Family, Love and Milk). The TOMA LECHE (Drink Milk) campaign replaced it in 2006, following a growing trend in Hispanic food advertising that uses wit and humor to reach audiences. GOT MILK? gifts and recipes can be viewed at www.gotmilk.com and www.tomaleche.com. The CMPB is funded by all California milk processors and administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

(1) 244 pieces = 8965 calories: 12 snack-size Kit Kat bars, 10 snack-size Hershey bars, 12 snack-size Crunch bars, 6 snack-size peanut M&Ms, 3 snack-size plain M&Ms, 8 Tootsie Pops, 10 small boxes of Nerds, 15 small Sweet Tarts packs, 30 Sweet Tart rolls, 17 2-piece packs of Starburst, 23 Tootsie Roll Midgees, 15 pieces of Jolly Rancher, 12 pieces of Werther’s Original, 20 pieces of mint candy, 20 pieces of assorted fruit candy, 10 pieces of cinnamon candy, 11 pieces of butterscotch candy and 10 snack-size Taffies.

(2) Skelton, Joseph A., MD; Stephen R. Cook, MD, MPH; Peggy Auinger, MS; Jonathan D. Klein, MD, MPH; and Sarah E. Barlow, MD, MPH. "Prevalence and Trends of Severe Obesity Among US Children and Adolescents." Academic Pediatrics 9.5 (2009): 322-29. Print. http://www.academicpedsjnl.net/article/S1876-2859(09)00109-0/abstract

(3) "Obesity Expert at Brenner Children’s Hospital Says Rates of Severe Childhood Obesity have Tripled." Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. 27 July 2009. Web. http://www1.wfubmc.edu/news/NewsArticle.htm?ArticleID=2674