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Halloween Survey: Parents Want Fun, Healthy Alternatives to Sugary Treats

The American Dental Association (ADA) and PopCap Games today announced the results of a new survey targeting U.S. parents of trick-or-treating age kids (5 to 13 years old), looking at views and perceptions of Halloween. Approximately 94% of all American children participate in trick-or-treating, but the survey results signify parents of kids that age want more and better options where treats are concerned. Among the top findings, the average child receives just over 90 pieces of candy on Halloween and 70% of parents agree it would be good if their children received less candy and more non-candy treats. This year, that’s a real possibility, through the PopCap and ADA “Stop Zombie Mouth” campaign, which includes the giveaway of millions of coupons redeemable for free copies of the family-friendly hit PopCap® game Plants vs. Zombies®.

“The fact that the majority of parents believe their children receive and consume too much candy around Halloween is encouraging,” said Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, ADA spokesperson on pediatric dentistry. “With the Stop Zombie Mouth campaign we’re providing a fun alternative to sugary treats while further raising awareness of the importance of oral health among parents and children at this critical time of the year. Tooth decay can be prevented through basic steps such as brushing twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, yet only 44% of children brush twice daily.”

Following are key findings from the survey, conducted by Information Solutions Group and involving more than 1,000 parents throughout America; full survey results can be found here: ADA/PopCap Halloween Consumer Parent Study

Halloween Family Activities

For parents, the most enjoyable aspects of Halloween as a parent are “Trick-or-treating with my child(ren)” (74% of all respondents); “Having fun with family” (51%) and “Decorating the house” (47%). “Dressing up in costume” and “Pumpkin carving” rounded out the top five responses, with 43% and 41%, respectively.

Parents: Less Sugar, More Fun

70% of responding parents agreed with the statement “If my child received less candy and more of other kinds of treats, that would be good”; 59% agree that “my children eat too much candy around Halloween.” Among those parents whose children have visited a dentist three or more times to have a cavity filled, 71% said their children eat too much candy around Halloween.

Too Much Candy

According to all parents surveyed, candy represents 86.5% of all treats their children receive while trick-or-treating; 77% of parents reported that their children receive more than 50 pieces of candy while trick-or-treating on Halloween. 30% receive more than 100 pieces of candy, and the average for across all children is 90.9 pieces of candy received.

Tooth-Friendly Alternatives for Treats

Three quarters (75%) of parents surveyed would prefer their child receive a free video game instead of a piece of candy on Halloween. (Among parents whose children have visited a dentist three or more times to have a cavity filled, fully 86% indicated they’d prefer their children receive a free video game.)

Announced earlier this month, the “Stop Zombie Mouth” campaign will continue through Halloween, and provides parents, dentists and other adults with trading cards and coupons redeemable for free copies of PopCap’s family friendly hit video game, Plants vs. Zombies, which can be given away to trick-or-treaters as a tooth-friendly alternative to candy. Already, thousands of ADA member dentists nationwide have ordered Stop Zombie Mouth kits to give away to their patients.

Survey Methodology

This research was conducted by Information Solutions Group (ISG; exclusively for PopCap Games and the American Dental Association (ADA). The results are based on 1,043 online surveys completed by members of the world’s largest online ePanel (Toluna) in the United States between September 14 and September 18, 2012. To qualify for participation in the survey, individuals had to live in the U.S., have at least one child between 5 and 13 years old and allow their children to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. Among U.S. households, 1,099 were identified as parents of children 5 to 13 years old, with 1,043 (94%) allowing their children to trick-or treat on Halloween. In theory, in 19 cases out of 20, the results will differ by no more than 2.1 percentage points from what would have been obtained by seeking out and polling all U.S. households with children 5 to 13 years old. Smaller subgroups reflect larger margins of sampling error. Other sources of error, such as variations in the order of questions or the wording within the questionnaire, may also contribute to different results.

About the American Dental Association (ADA)

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation’s largest dental association, representing more than 157,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public’s health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA’s state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. For more oral health information, visit the ADA’s website at

About PopCap

PopCap Games is the leading global developer, publisher and operator of casual video games: fun, easy-to-learn, captivating games that appeal to all ages across PC, mobile, social and other platforms. Based in Seattle, Washington, PopCap was founded in 2000, was acquired by Electronic Arts in 2011, and has a worldwide staff of more than 400 people in Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver, B.C., Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo. PopCap’s games have been downloaded over 1.5 billion times by consumers worldwide, and its flagship franchise, Bejeweled®, has sold more than 50 million units.

Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled and PopCap are trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc.

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