Halloween is almost here, which means costumes, scary movies, and lots of candy. In this video, Reactions tackles this spooky hypothetical question: how much Halloween candy would kill you? Find out the answer as we explain the chemistry behind lethal doses, sugar metabolism, and candy corn. Trick-or-treaters, beware:
It’s estimated that candy sales this Halloween will reach upwards to $2.5 billion dollars in the US. [Ed. – For 2022 it is estimated to be $3.1 billion.]
In keeping within the bounds of this season’s spookiness – today we’re looking at how many pieces of Halloween candy, when eaten in one sitting, can kill the average person.
It isn’t called candy if it isn’t absolutely loaded with sugar.
The average American consumes around 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, even though experts suggest that men consume no more than 9 teaspoons, and for woman, only 6. Of course, all those added sugars haven’t come without a toll.
The National Institute of Health found that around 2/3rds of Americans are overweight, and while there are varying factors that contribute to this problem, candy is most certainly putting its dent in it.
Table sugar, or sucrose, is a simple carbohydrate that is composed of two main parts: Glucose and Fructose. Just like with High Fructose Corn Syrup, our bodies breaks this molecule down into these separate parts.
Glucose passes through the liver and is readily distributed about the body as your cells can use it for energy. Fructose on the other hand sticks around in the liver – the only hardware in your body that can break it down into simpler pieces.
The liver then converts around 50% of the fructose into glucose, almost 30% into lactate, and whatever remains gets stored as fat.
When you load up your body with sugar, all that glucose can’t be used at once to power your cells so it ends up being converted and stored in cells called adipocytes, or fat cells.
So you can see why all those added sugars end up having an extended stay right here (shows belly).
Candy can come with nuts and other treats inside, but let’s focus on sugar for our hypothetical death by gluttony.
As the old saying goes, “the dose makes the poison.” At high enough doses, sugar can be toxic. But how much is too much?
We’re going to need to look at the Oral LD50 – the quantity per kilogram that can successfully kill half of an animal test population such as rats (Show the LD50 for different points).
The LD50 of Sucrose is 29.7 grams per kilogram or 13.5 grams per pound. The LD50 represents toxicity for things consumed ALL AT ONCE and it doesn’t guarantee death – it’s just what kills 50% of a population. And since these numbers represent toxicity in rats, it’s possible that sugar might be more or less toxic in humans.
Scientists often use approximations like these because getting the lethal dose of sugar or other compounds in humans would be wildly unethical, for obvious reasons.
But if there is human testing for the LD50 for Nutella, SIGN ME UP.
The average person in the US weighs around 180 pounds. That means that in order to reach the LD50, they would have to eat approximately 2,440 grams of sugar – about 5.4 pounds!
But what does all this sugar mean in terms of a trick-or-treater’s Halloween loot?
An average piece of fun-size Halloween candy packs 9.3 grams of sugar and runs you about 75 Calories. So in order to reach the LD50, the average person would need to eat 262 pieces – nearly 20,000 Calories!
So how about in terms of a specific Halloween staple, candy corn?
A single piece contains approximately 1.5 grams of sugar which would put our lethal dose at 1,627 pieces. I could probably do it.
Now you know the numbers of an average person, but what about you?
Down in the video description there’s a handy equation to figure out your lethal dose of both trick-or-treat candy and candy corn.
For those of you out there who want to figure out the oral LD50 for yourself fill in the variable “W” with your own weight in pounds:
(W*13.5)/9.3 = PIECES OF FUN SIZED CANDY
(W*13.5)/1.5 = PIECES OF CANDY CORN
Post your numbers down in the comments, and have some fun with it.
We here at Reactions love us some candy, but look people, keep in good health and don’t go overboard this year.
Make sure to check out this video on what happens when you eat too much, and while on the topic of death, here’s another video on what would happen to your body if you did accidentally eat several hundred pieces of candy.
Hit thumbs up and subscribe on your way out, and we’ll see you again soon.