It’s milk dressed up in chocolate: a beverage with the same nine essential nutrients as white milk but with the special flavor children love. To celebrate a healthier Halloween this season, the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB) – the creator of GOT MILK? – encourages families across the Golden State to make chocolate milk the treat of choice on Oct. 31, instead of doling out high-calorie, fatty treats. While small pieces of candy may seem harmless at first sight, an average Jack-O-Lantern bucket typically carries about 250 pieces of candy worth 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar - hair raising numbers even for adults. “Adding chocolate to milk doesn’t take away its unique combination of vital nutrients necessary for optimal growth and development,” says Ashley Rosales, a registered dietitian with the Dairy Council of California. “Kids only get nutrients from foods they eat, and giving them chocolate milk is a fun and tasty way to ensure they receive calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which many children lack in their diets.” GOT MILK?’s healthy Halloween message is just one of its efforts to keep proper nutrition top of mind among families as childhood obesity numbers continue to rise. A study in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association has found that children who drink milk, even flavored milk like chocolate, consume more nutrients and have a healthier diet overall. “We’re excited to celebrate Halloween with families throughout California,” said Steve James, executive director of the CMPB. “We want their trick-or-treating experience to be fun and exciting, while also providing tips on how they can have a healthier celebration.” To ensure a healthy Halloween, GOT MILK? also recommends the following tips for families: 1. Dinner First. Before trick-or-treating, give children a nutritious dinner with vegetables, whole grains and protein-rich foods topped off with a glass of low fat or nonfat milk. Having a healthy dinner will reduce children’s appetites for sweets. 2. Non-Food Treats. Consider handing out school supplies like pencils and erasers to school age children, as they will come in handy for class. Small toys are also appropriate in reducing the amount of candy children eat during Halloween. 3. Power Trick-or-Treat. Trick-or-treating can be a fun way to incorporate walking and exercise. Plan a few extra loops around the neighborhood. This process can tire out kids and prepare them to hit the sack when they get home. For more information on the benefits of milk for the entire family this Halloween, visit gotmilk.com.