Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Did I really say that to her?

Fear of facing colleagues sober best way to curb office party excesses, says researcher

Overdoing things at the office Christmas party can have disastrous consequences.  Photo / Thinkstock
Overdoing things at the office Christmas party can have disastrous consequences. Photo / Thinkstock

The trick to getting people to watch their drinking this Christmas is to warn them they will ruin the party rather than telling them it's bad for their health, an academic has found.

At this time of year office parties start kicking into gear and there is a traditional splurge of eating and drinking over Christmas and New Year.

University of Canterbury consumer researcher Dr Ekant Veer studied a group of about 250 people to find the best way to talk to someone about their drinking.

Half were presented with standard health messages that drinking was bad for them, while the other half were told that if they went on a binge they were more likely to ruin the social situation for everyone.

"We found that when the social situation was important, like a party, then the social message was far more effective when getting people to moderate their binge drinking compared to the health message. People really didn't care about their own health," he told the Herald.

Dr Veer said eating and drinking in moderation was definitely something that could get ignored at the office Christmas party.

But bad behaviour is not easily forgotten - especially when people have to go back to work and face their colleagues again, sober.

Dr Veer started his research with a group of university students - "because they're the group most prone to binge drink" - then extended it to the workplace environment.

As long as people had a "justifiable reason", such as an office party, personal health messages were ignored by the majority.

Some people tended to zone out after a few drinks, so having a frank discussion beforehand could help moderate their behaviour at the party.

Dr Veer also found that, as suspected, people threw their diets out the window during the festive season.

"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.

"However, the ongoing effects of over-consumption of both food and alcohol can still be significantly detrimental to our health and wellbeing," he said.

Christmas tips

1. Stay hydrated
Alternate glasses of alcohol with water and have an electrolyte-type drink before you go to bed.

2. Don't drink on an empty stomach
Eat something nutritious before you go out drinking to slow the absorption of alcohol.

3. Don't overdo it
Play it safe and stick to one drink an hour.

4. Increase your B vitamin intake
Those low in vitamin B3 levels will find they can't bounce back after a big night as easily.

5. Dose up on vitamin C
A Vitamin C supplement will give the immune system an almighty boost.


- NZ Herald

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