Thursday, December 23, 2004

Eat, drink, be merry...

You may have thought that Christmas was a time of relaxation, merriment and cheer - but not according to reports from pretty much every media outlet.

There's all that food, for example. 'The extra calories have to go somewhere. It will be laid down as fat, and it's those extra few pounds that will do harm in the long term', said David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum. If the extra weight doesn't get you, the extra blood sugar might. 'It might tip some people with borderline glucose intolerance into full blown diabetes. It's a serious business', he added.

If it's not the food, it's the demon drink. The Daily Mail reports the negative effects of all that Christmas booze, including lower coordination and reaction times, lost inhibitions, excessive urination, loss of balance and memory, gastritis, vomiting, and liver damage. Others report an increased risk of stroke after drinking.

If the drink doesn't ruin your liver, being three sheets to the wind leaves you vulnerable. 'Both men and women are more likely to become victims of assault and robbery when inebriated, and the Christmas party season brings an increase in such incidents each year…' says Scotland on Sunday. Detective Inspector Nigel Oliver added: 'Recent studies have proven that alcohol is the most common "date rape drug".'

And even consensual sex can have its drawbacks, as the Department of Health proved with its '12 STIs of Christmas'. On the ninth day, for example, my true love gave me 'genital warts, trichomoniasis, hepatitis, pubic lice, gonorrhoea, genital herpes, syphilis, chlamydia and sores that spread anally'.

Then there's debt, drink-driving, paedophiles working as Santas, various degrees of injury and litigation after office parties, cooking accidents, food poisoning, domestic violence, increasing murder rates…the list of Christmas dangers goes on and on.

As it's the holiday season, you might think we would get a bit of a break from these overblown panics. Not likely. Instead, the panicmongers bombard us with even more dire warnings about food, drink and everything else. The fact that most of us will be spending time with friends and family, often behind closed doors, and drinking and eating more than we normally do makes this the busiest time of year for the puritans and killjoys suspicious of what we get up to in our private lives and ever-keen to tell us how to behave.

The best advice is this: eat, drink and be merry - and stuff the Christmas killjoys.

Festive excess stores up trouble, BBC News, 22 December 2004

What the 12 drinks of Christmas do to your body, Daily Mail, 21 December 2004

Police warn of excess alcohol dangers, Scotland on Sunday, 7 December 2004

The 12 STIs Of Christmas, NHS Playing Safely website

From mistletoe to turkey, why Christmas kills... for the killjoys, by Mick Hume, The Times (London), 16 December 2004

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