Tuesday, October 31, 2017

American Chemical Society Investigates How Much Halloween Candy Would Need To Be Eaten To Reach A Lethal Dose

Image result for kid in Trump Halloween maskAlmond Joy Halloween Snack Size Bars - 12 bag case
Trick or Treaters wearing Trump masks are most likely to OD on Halloween candies.

One of the more macabre bits of research to be undertaken by the American Chemical Society recently (WSJ, Oct. 28-29, p. A2) sought to answer the question: 'How much  Halloween Candy Would It Take To Kill Someone?'  It turns out not as much as you'd think - especially if you can imagine a greedy kid in a Trump mask who pigs out after collecting the equivalent of about 8 bags of snack size Almond Joy bars or the equivalent in other candies. 

Sixty years ago when I made my last Halloween rounds that wasn't a problem - because mostly all you received was candy corn, e.g.

We thought the stuff was terrific with the Trick or Treat colors, but usually could never consume more than a few ounces at a time. It all tasted the same, you know. Kids today don't have that problem because the diversity of goodies they get - mainly in fun size candy bars - is designed to encourage binge eating.

Anyway, the conclusion of the ACS study is that any kid - even one with a greed head disposition wearing a Trump mask - would have to gobble up a gluttonous amount to put his or her life at risk. What is the gluttonous amount of candy that could deliver such a toxic dose?

The first thing the ACS needed to decide on was a standard for lethality. The choice was the "lethal dose at 50 percent" or LD50 for short - created in 1927 as a gauge for drug potency. Also known as the ;median lethal dose"  it assesses the threshold at which 50 percent of a sample population would be killed by consuming  x milligrams of the potential toxic substance per kilogram
of body weight.

None other than Hans Plugge, a toxicologist at Verisk 3E - a company in Bethesda, MD, helped the ACS come up with its lethality estimates for Halloween candy.  He used the current scientific literature in tandem with the known LD50 for the sucrose content of Halloween candy. It turns out sucrose amounts to 29.7 grams per kilograms of weight  for the person. (Or 13. 5 g per pound of weight.)

Since the bags of Almond Joy snack bars we bought to dole out weigh in at 569 grams each, with 33 "fun bars" in each, the LD 50 dose  computed by the ACS formula would amount to 891 g for a 30 kg (66 lb.) kid.   This means the kid would only have to eat 1.75 bags or about 57 bars to hit the LD50 mark. Believe me, looking at the bag's bar contents this would not be that difficult to do for a gluttonous kid, say who also fancies greed and over -consumption and has a thing for Dotard masks..

This elicits the question of how many of these Almond Joy snack bars I'd have to gobble to reach that  50 percent lethal dose.   Since I weigh in at 90 kg, the total sucrose mass consumed would need to be 90 kg x 29.7 g / kg =   2, 673 grams. Doing the math this translates into about 4.7 bags of Almond Joy or 268 fun bars.

I know absolutely I could do it, but knowing what it'd do to my a1c there's no way in hell I would remotely try. Unless maybe I planned to go around  wearing a Dotard mask.

If 50 percent of test subject trick or treat gobblers would be killed at the LD50 level, then all would be wasted at the LD100 level. The ACS, of course, could never conduct such actual experiments in their labs - patiently waiting over the "gobbling time"  until half the test kids cash in - so these figures must be predicated on estimates.

What we DO know is the less sugar the average human consumes, the better for his or her health. Once you get diabetes, the jig is up: you get itchy sores on your skin, your eyesight goes (diabetic retinopathy) , and the kidneys, heart and other organs are vulnerable.  The a1c blood test is the key measure, and you want it below 5.5 if possible. From 5.6 to 6.2 you are borderline or pre -diabetic.

The recommended daily amount of sugar for adult women is 25 grams, and for men, 36 grams. The real amount consumed by adults? About 82 grams per day.  For kids, even minus the Halloween candy, it's probably twice that.

To stay within the American Heart Association's limits, kids ought to ration out their stash, eating no more than two fun size bars per day.

Those kids wearing Trump masks will likely refuse because they want to emulate their greedy idol.

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