Sweet snacks and chocolate are synonymous with halloween, and indulging on the fruits of a hard evening’s trick or treating is a tradition kids and parents alike look forward to.

But in truth, the impact on the body of consuming too much sugar is much more frightening than you might expect. And I’m not even talking about the long-term effects of a consistently poor diet, such as obesity and diabetes; the results in just the first hour following a one-off sugar binge are scary enough.

Perhaps the most worrisome prospect of being faced with an abundance of snacks is that you’ll lose track of how much you’ve eaten; unless you have someone sitting next to you reminding you or taking notes, it’s very easy to get carried away and have more than you should.

The effects of consuming too much sugar don’t become outwardly apparent right away, so it’s naturally not always obvious when you’ve overstepped the mark.

Behind the scenes however, the body has to work to a herculean degree to deal with a high influx of sugar.

To highlight this, we’ve put together a timeline of what takes place inside the body during the first 60 minutes following a sugar binge.

(Click on the image to see a larger version.)

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What constitutes a binge?

For the purposes of this exercise, we’ve looked at what would likely occur in an adult body following a helping of sugar equivalent to 100g in one sitting.

However, there is no clear cut definition of what constitutes a sugar binge. Everyone’s metabolism is different, and the effects of the same amount of sugar on a child may be even more pronounced than those described above.

The recommended daily intake for an adult of total sugars is 90g, and this is the figure you’ll see referenced on food packaging.

What many people don’t realise though is that total sugars refers to sugars from all foods, and a different set of rules apply when it comes to added sugar.

Products that contain added sugar, such as chocolate, sweets, cakes and even fruit juices, should make up no more than five per cent of daily calorie intake, according to the NHS.

So this makes the upper RI from products with added sugar somewhere closer to 30g.

That’s less than the amount of sugar found in a can of Coke (36g) or a small 55g bag of Skittles (49g).

Responsible snacking

One of the more dangerous aspects of sugar is that people tend to underestimate its effects on the body, and don’t realise how just how little too much is.

There’s nothing wrong with having the occasional treat. But even on special occasions such as halloween, it’s important to keep track of how much you’ve eaten so you don’t overdo it.

‘Moderation’ is a term which has been the moral of several recent diet-related news stories, and it’s a term which applies here too. Indulging on sugary snacks should not be something undertaken to excess on a habitual basis.

Parents should keep in mind that what they view as acceptable practice rubs off on their children. The more they see overindulging on sugary treats as standard, the more likely they are to do it regularly themselves and carry on doing so in later life.

So as well as practising that great mantra of moderation, it’s a good idea to educate your children on it too.

Popular snack reference table

Snack

Calories per 100g

Sugar (g) per 100g

Calories per (serving)

Sugar (g) per (serving)

Mars Bar 450 59.9 230 (51g) 30.5 (51g)
Peanut M&Ms 511 53.6 210 (41g) 22 (41g)
Haribo Tangastics 346 50 173 (50g) 25 (50g)
Tesco Marshmallows 332 64.6 76 (3 sweets) 14.9 (3 sweets)
Jawbreakers 328 90.7 130 (1 piece) 36 (1 piece)
Fruit Pastilles 351 55.8 74 (7 sweets) 11.8 (7 sweets)