The Halloween Candy Complex

November 8th, 2013 by Andrea Bennett

A fat-shaming North Dakota woman turns out to be a hoax, but the anger it prompted was not.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

When I was of trick-or-treating age, my mother set some firm rules regarding Halloween candy. I was allowed to pick out a couple pieces of candy before she sent the rest to the nurses at the hospital where my father worked. My significant other holds an old friend in high esteem for enforcing a mandatory trade: her kids hand over all their candy in exchange for a toy. At the end of the day, your parenting style is your own decision. But I take real issue when parents start projecting their own parenting decisions on other people’s children.

Most recently, a North Dakota woman made headlines by announcing that she would be handing out a letter shaming parents of kids she deemed to be overweight. As “Cheryl” said in an interview with Y-94 morning radio in West Fargo, “I think it’s just really irresponsible of parents to send them out looking for free candy just ‘cause all the other kids are doing it.” Part of Cheryl’s letter read, “You are probably wondering why your child has this note; have you ever heard the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’? I am disappointed in ‘the village’ of Fargo Moorhead, West Fargo. Your child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season.”

As it turned out, “Cheryl” was a prank pulled off by the radio station, but that didn't stop the letter from making the rounds on social media. And hoax or not, the idea of the letter has plenty of people up in arms. Nico Lang, a contributor to the Los Angeles Times, sided with those offended by the letter, offering, “Although it’s honorable for her to care so much about public health, behavior like this will only further children’s existing anxiety about food. Research shows that children as young as 3 are already learning to internalize harmful messages about their weight.”

What do you think? How can we find a balance between keeping our children healthy and letting kids be kids? Weigh in here.