Diets fly out of the window and drinking increases this time of year for a reason, because people just don't care, a Canterbury University consumer researcher said today.
On the eve of Cup Week in Christchurch, office parties next month and a traditional splurge of eating and drinking over Christmas - New Year, Canterbury University lecturer Dr Ekant Veer said most people forget about health during these times to party and celebrate.
`` Previous research has shown that people can eat as much as 3000 calories at Christmas, which is like eating six extra big burgers in a day,'' Dr Veer said.
``There are more important things on our mind other than how many calories we are eating or how much we are drinking and the traditional messages about excess consumption being bad for our health go out of the window because we believe that a binge is ok at times like Show Week, Christmas and end of year parties. We always see photos after Cup Week of people struggling to stay upright.
``However, the ongoing effects of over-consumption of both food and alcohol can still be significantly detrimental to our health and wellbeing.
``My research has found personal health messages are ignored by the majority of people, especially when there's a justifiable reason such as Cup day, office parties, Christmas or New Year's Eve.
``However, messages about ruining a social occasion are still taken into account. We might not care about messages that say `excess alcohol causes liver damage' but we would listen to messages that say `if you drink too much, you ruin the party for everyone'. The latter message really works in situations and parties where social approval is important.''
Dr Veer said eating and drinking in moderation is definitely something that can be ignored at the office Christmas party, but our bad behaviour isn't easily forgotten in the sober light when people have to go back to work and face their colleagues again.
But for some people after a few drinks, they can just zone out. However, having a frank discussion beforehand can help moderate people's behaviour on the day or night.
His research found that making people more aware of their behaviour and how it affected the wider social group does have an impact on their behaviour when they go out.
``However, when you are in the midst of party mode, you can't use that opportunity to have a deep discussion - it just doesn't work.''
About 300 people perished on New Zealand's roads each year but it is estimated about 11,000 Kiwis die a year through weight and nutrition related diseases, he said.