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Holidays by Numbers

The Holidays by the Numbers

Most of us know that the holidays can mean unwanted weight gain. You may have even heard that the average person gains 5-9 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. But a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2018 indicated that in fact, most Americans gain 0.2% over Thanksgiving and 0.4% over Christmas — which amounts to about a pound on average during the holidays. Of course, even just one pound is significant if it happens every year and no efforts are made to lose the weight. But read on for other interesting numbers about the holidays and your health.

2 billion: the number of holiday cards sent in the U.S. every year.
Reaching out to friends and extended family members across the globe — even if it’s just once a year — can help you feel connected during the holiday season, and more grateful for the people in your life. Writing and sending holiday cards early in the season can help keep you grounded and focused on the people that matter most to you.

7-15%: the increase in ER visits during the holidays.
Every year emergency rooms see a spike in patients due to accidents, chest pains, gallbladder attacks, food poisoning and alcohol-related incidents during the holidays. And with more patients to see, waiting times can also increase. Protect yourself and your family by making safety, eating well and getting enough sleep a priority all season long, and ensuring that nobody in your family ever gets behind the wheel of a car after they’ve been drinking.

10 p.m. on Christmas Eve: the peak time for heart attacks to occur during the holidays.
The incidence of heart attacks increases about 5% during the holiday season, and most tend to happen at night. If you are at risk, avoid too much physical exertion, maintain a healthy diet, drink only in moderation and take time to relax and just enjoy being with family and loved ones.

7,000: the average number of calories consumed on Christmas Day.
From special holiday brunch items in the morning and calorie-laden stuffing, gravy and pies at dinner, to constant nibbling on treats and imbibing in festive drinks, it’s easy to lose control and consume more than three times as many calories as you should in just one day.

An estimated 500,000: the number of children who will spend the holidays away from a parent in the military.
Whether a parent is deployed overseas, or on active duty at a base in the US and unable to take leave during the holiday, their children are left to celebrate without their mother or father. There are several organizations that help bring holiday cheer to these families. If you’d like to help, check out these programs.

20%: the estimated number of seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities spending the holidays alone.
Nobody wants to be alone during the holidays, and that’s true even for the most elderly. Check with local care facilities or senior centers to see how you and your family can help brighten the holidays for those in need of some companionship and socialization.

24%: the percentage of people who resolve to lose weight in the New Year.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight are both important factors in staying well, but this year, why not focus on incorporating more healthy habits into your lifestyle instead? Getting just a little more activity every day, cutting back on sugar, and eating more fruits and vegetables are all healthy changes that will help you with your weight goals and ensure you’re on the right track to staying well.

Of course the holidays -- and your health -- aren’t about the numbers! This is the season for spending time with loved ones in a happy and healthy environment. Plan ahead to stay safe and help avoid accidents, be generous with your time and resources, look around for opportunities to help others, and let the holiday spirit carry you into 2020 with more gratitude and appreciation for your loved ones, time spent together, and good health.


This article first appeared in the December 2019 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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