The thought of Christmas might conjure up images of carol singers and sleigh bells in the snow but, for most of us, the reality is not so pretty! Shocking new research shows that we’ll spend, on average, almost five hours each day eating and drinking - and that few of us will have any idea how many calories we’re consuming.

We’ve looked into how the nation plans to spend the festive period – and it seems we’ll be rolling, rather than rocking, around the Christmas tree! It’s estimated that Brits will, on average, spend 2.2 hours every day tucking into treats and a further 2.6 hours drinking alcohol, amounting to almost five hours of indulgence each day in total.

But with a growing obesity crisis and hospitals in England banning super-sized confectionery, we might need to pause before taking another mince pie, and reflect on the amount of sugar we’re consuming. Health insurance team leader Mark Todd said: “At Christmas, the opportunity to indulge is always there, but even at this time of year, this seems excessive.

“With hospitals in England banning super-size chocolate bars and the UK Government introducing a sugar tax in a bid to deal with the problem, there are measures being put in place to tackle our unhealthy relationship with sugar. But these figures show that, as a nation, we are still by and large sticking our heads in the sand when it comes to the level of sugar we are consuming.”

Our research revealed that, during the rest of the year, more than 40% of us enjoy some kind of confectionery at least every other day. But more than one in four - 28% - of us has no idea how fattening the average chocolate bar even is, while one in five believes it contains less than 200 calories when, in fact, the figure is as much as 229 or more.

NHS figures, meanwhile, show that hospital admissions where obesity was a factor rose by 18% in the year 2016 to 2017 while, in the same period, one in five schoolchildren in Year 6 and one in 10 children in reception were classified as obese.

Britain is reportedly the most obese nation in western Europe, with rates rising faster than any other developed nation and putting Brits at a higher risk of chronic conditions including hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Mark added: “Anyone looking towards private health insurance in light of ongoing pressures on public health services might want to bear in mind that premiums are likely to be more expensive if your lifestyle choices are less than desirable, so overweight consumers and those who smoke can expect to pay more for cover in many cases.

“Historical cases of diabetes, high cholesterol and other issues could also end up costing you more in the long run, with the chances of obtaining additional support for treatment regarding any of the above slim to non-existent as a prospective policy holder suffering from any as a pre-existing condition.”

“While measures can be put in place by the NHS and sugar taxes imposed, some of this also comes down to education, and people realising that eating sugary treats and drinking alcohol for hours at a time cannot be sustainable. Prevention is the best way to tackle the impacts of obesity and it’s time we woke up to this.”

Did you know that nine out of 10 adults are risking their health with their lifestyle choices and that we need to make better decisions to improve our health as a nation? You might also want to read our article on health insurance and pre-existing medical conditions to find out what kind of cover you’re eligible for. And to compare health insurance quotes online, use our simple comparison tool.