After a hard year at work and the welcome reward of some family time on the cards, we can all be forgiven for having an extra drop of alcohol this festive season and helping ourselves to one more roast potato at dinnertime. But just when should we learn to say enough is enough?

England’s hospitals struggled to cope with the number of alcohol-related emergencies in 2015. In fact, there’s little doubt that our love of drink has gone too far as a nation as research has shown that the number of people admitted to A&E due to drink has doubled in the last nine years.

In addition to this, the UK’s growing weight problems are placing immense strain on the National Health Service. Cases of Type 2 Diabetes already costs the NHS almost £10 billion per year, and the total cost of an increasingly overweight population is estimated to be nearer £50 billion in total.

While everyone has the right to let their hair down and unwind with some of their favourite treats during the festive season, how much is too much?

Back in 2012 a Cambridge professor studied the effects of drinking, smoking and eating on our health in terms of the number of ‘microlives’ or 30 minute chunks an individual loses from their lifespan each time they overindulge. The research suggested that enjoying a second or third drink of wine or champagne at Christmas could cost an individual one microlife – as could smoking two cigarettes or eating a burger consisting of red meat.

Over time, it is estimated that a lifetime habit of eating red meat on a daily basis can be equated to the loss of around one year to the average male.

A turkey dinner isn’t any better

Although a traditional Christmas dinner may not be based around red meat, it is estimated that the average person consumes in excess of 7,000 calories on Christmas Day. Indeed in one poll, nearly a third of people admitted to eating over 8,500 calories on the 25th December – over 3 times a man’s recommended daily intake and more than four times that recommended for women.

More worrying still is the fact that the average person gains 6 pounds in weight between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day thanks to overindulging – weight that may take up to 4 months to lose.

Put into context, being 5kg overweight is estimated to cost an individual one microlife per day – making Christmas a dangerous time indeed.

Christmas eating habits

7,000+ – the number of calories consumed by the average person

2,000 – the number of calories consumed before lunch on Christmas Day through alcohol, snacking and breakfast

6 pounds – the weight gained on average by people in the UK between Christmas and New Year’s Day

4 months – the time taken to lose Christmas weight

There is some good news, however. Microlives can be gained as well as lost. 20 minutes of moderate exercise per day and eating fresh fruit and vegetables are just some of the ways one can combat those days when temptation is just too hard to resist.

Of course, we are all familiar with fad dieting and short-lived gym regimes in January. But establishing a consistent, maintainable routine for nutrition and exercise is the real key to prolonging and improving life. For those who find it difficult to achieve results and have a genuine medical need for help with managing weight problems, Express Pharmacy offers effective prescription medication for weight loss.