Warning over Christmas Day calories

The average person in Britain could consume the equivalent of half a pack of lard in saturated fat, and as much salt as would be found in 50 packets of crisps, on Christmas Day, the British Heart Foundation has warned.

In a survey, the charity asked 2,000 people who celebrate Christmas what they eat and drink over the festive period.

They found that for many people, the Christmas indulgence starts before the turkey is even in the oven. More than one in 10 choose a full English breakfast for Christmas morning, with 14% opting for a bacon sandwich. The typical fried breakfast contains around 1,200 calories, and a bacon sandwich with brown sauce can contain over half an adult's recommended daily salt allowance.

Almost three quarters of those surveyed said they eat a traditional turkey dinner on December 25. With all the trimmings, the typical Christmas meal adds up to 660 calories. Over half of people asked said they would follow this with Christmas pudding, with 23% planning to have cream.

Between meals, 40% said they snacked on nuts and 30% on crisps, both of which are often laden with added salt. A third of people will eat at least one mince pie, and over half enjoy chocolates throughout the day.

Combined with overindulgence at mealtimes, sweet snacks bring the average person's Christmas day sugar intake to the equivalent of 32 teaspoons.

Christmas is a chance to enjoy a glass of wine or two, but one in 10 people said they drink more than 13 units of alcohol, the equivalent of 13 shots of whisky in one day.

After breakfast, lunch and dinner on December 25, the British Heart Foundation estimates that the average Briton could have consumed up to 64g of saturated fat, more than double the recommended daily allowance for men, and three times that for women. Too much saturated fat can raise a person's risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Nearly a quarter of people surveyed admitted that they do absolutely no exercise over the entire Christmas period.

The charity recently launched its free 'New Year, New You' packs, containing a range of leaflets with advice on quitting smoking, healthy eating and exercise. It hopes to encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles in order to lower their risk of developing heart disease.

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