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Overindulging 'ruins the party'

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 08/11/2012

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Cup Day, the festive season and office parties cause New Zealanders to splurge on food and drink and forget about exercise regimes and diets, a researcher says.

University of Canterbury consumer researcher Ekant Veer said most people forgot about their healthy plans at this time of year and celebrated.

"There are more important things on our mind other than how many calories we are eating or how we are drinking," he said.

People believed it was "OK to binge" when there was a "justifiable reason", such as Cup Day, end-of-year work dos and Christmas.

Excess consumption could have "significantly detrimental" effects on health and wellbeing, but there may be another way to get people to cut down on unhealthy behaviour, Veer said.

"We might not care about messages that say excess alcohol causes liver damage, but we would listen to messages that say if you drink too much you ruin the party for everyone," he said.

"The latter message really works in situations and parties where social approval is important."

His research found making people more aware of their bad behaviour and how it affected the wider social group had a positive impact.

Veer said about 300 people died on New Zealand roads each year and about 11,000 people died because of weight and nutrition-related diseases.

Mitch Tucker, 25, owns the Faction photography and events company, but despite the social nature of his work he was "not a big drinker".

"I usually watch what I eat and how I drink. I'm not a fitness freak or anything, but at this time of year it's just too easy to over-indulge," he said.

Cup and Show Week, barbecues and work parties were all "opportunities to eat or drink a bit too much".

Tucker said he might have two or three drinks in a usual week but recently had been "maybe getting close to 10".

He did not mind his staff "having a good time" but would not want to see them "go too far".

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