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Wrap rage and calories

Published December 19. 2009 09:00AM

Always remember to forget the troubles that pass your way, but never forget the blessings that come each day.

Here's a holiday news nugget for those who will experience "wrap rage" this season …

According to a poll of Pennsylvania adults, about 17 percent of Pennsylvanians experienced an injury or know someone who was injured while opening gifts during past seasons.

According to the American Dialect Society, wrap rage is defined as anger brought on by the frustration of trying to open a factory-sealed purchase. The organization recognized the term in 2007 as one of the "most useful."

A March 2006 story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted Todd Marks, a senior editor at Consumer Reports, as saying, "Today's packages force consumers to fight tooth and nail to get at what's inside."

The same article also claims that 2001 Census Bureau data shows people suffer twice the injuries from packaging than injuries from skateboards or swimming pools.

As we are in the midst of the holiday season, Pennsylvania's physicians are encouraging citizens to play it safe with tough-to-open packaging to avoid an unnecessary trip to the emergency room. The following tips may help:

If you must use a knife or another type of sharp object, cut away from your body.

If you must use scissors, use ones with blunt tips.

Wear protective gloves.

Avoid opening tough-to-open packages in a crowded area.

Don't use your legs to keep the product stable.

The Institute for Good Medicine at the Pennsylvania Medical Society wishes all a happy and safe holiday season.

While Santa's official Pennsylvania-based doctors have given him a clean bill of health and have declared him fit for duty in the Keystone State on Christmas Eve, they're saying that they need help from all children to keep Santa healthy.

And, there's good reason.

A recent Patient Poll conducted by the Institute for Good Medicine at the Pennsylvania Medical Society found that 96 percent of the Pennsylvanians are likely to put out cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve. That means Santa could consume an estimated 2 million servings of milk and cookies, just in Pennsylvania alone.

In addition to cookies and milk, some of the other treats that Pennsylvanians leave for Santa include ham sandwiches, whiskey, and beer. A few leave carrot and celery sticks.

Regarding the cookies … we're talking overall big calories. A medium-sized chocolate chip cookie made with butter contains about 75 calories and a cup of 1 percent milk has 100 calories. That's 175 calories (and only if Santa eats just one cookie) per household.

With about 4.7 million households in Pennsylvania, Santa could be tempted by roughly 787,500,000 calories.

Using the Daily Energy Expenditure Health Calculator, if Santa consumes 3,500 more calories than he burns, he'll gain a pound. So if he eats all those cookies and drinks all that milk on Christmas Eve, Santa could conceivably gain … well, a lot of weight!

This is enough to not only concern his doctors, but also Santa himself.

"The magic of the holiday season makes it possible for me to land safely on rooftops and then squeeze down chimneys," Santa said. "But I too need to stay healthy and I need all of the children of Pennsylvania to help me."

That's why Santa and his official Pennsylvania doctors, the physician members of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, developed a plan and are calling upon all the children to help with the Santa Snack Plan. According to Peter Lund, MD, lead physician on the Santa health team and founder of the Institute for Good Medicine, "The premise behind the Santa Snack Plan is simple and very easy to follow:

Choose lighter, healthier foods over the tempting goodies. Santa enjoys carrots, apple slices, and celery sticks. He's truly grateful for the roughly 4 percent of those surveyed who do leave healthy snacks instead of cookies.

Occasionally, Santa can't resist and he doesn't want to disappoint the children by not trying their snacks. So, he's learned to take a taste, not a plateful. Sometimes Santa breaks off a little piece, eats it, and then sticks the rest in his Elf Treat Bag to take back to the North Pole where droves of busy elves await the rewards of his travels.

Be active. Besides eating less, Santa does burn calories. Santa works off thousands of calories on Christmas Eve lugging around enormous bags of gifts and climbing up chimneys. During his off-season, he also stays activebrisk strolls through the North Pole to check on the elves' progress and exercise with the reindeer-in-training.

As such, Santa says that by helping him, all Pennsylvania children will also be helping themselves.

Pennsylvania Medical Society president James Goodyear, MD, explains, "The average person gains 1.4 pounds per year, one pound of which is often gained over the holidays because of overeating. There's no better time than right now to adopt the Santa Snack Plan - to help Santa and yourself not only on December 24, but also all year."

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