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Health & Balance

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Weight Gain, Need to Be Nice Are Holiday Season Gripes

Survey Shows Worry Over Expanding Waistline Is Among 10 Most Dreaded Things of Holiday Season
By Cari Nierenberg
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 2, 2011 -- Many Americans have a grinch-like attitude toward being nice around the holidays, finds a new survey by Consumer Reports.

In the poll, "having to be nice" ranked among the top 10 things people dread this time of year. Worries about weight gain also ranked in the top 10.

The seasonal pressure to be pleasant was the tenth most common complaint in a recent telephone survey of 1,013 adults across the country.

The poll found that 15% of the adults questioned, or an estimated 35 million Americans, can't stand having to be nice during the holidays. And that can add even more stress to an already hectic holiday season.

When people were asked what -- if anything -- they dreaded most about the holidays, crowds and long lines topped the list; 68% ranked them as their biggest beefs this time of year.

The poll was done by the Consumer Reports National Research Center in early November, weeks before the holiday decorations, music, and shopping deluge began. It tried to gauge the mood of Americans to the upcoming holiday celebrations.

Holiday Pet Peeves

Dealing with mobs of people and waiting in line at stores or in mall parking lots made the top spot on the holiday gripe list. But two other common complaints tied for second place -- gaining weight and going into debt.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed worried about their expanding waistlines from feasting on holiday goodies and slacking off on exercise; 37% also worried about going into debt.

Shopping for presents ranked fourth, and traveling to see family or attend parties ranked fifth among holiday hassles.

"For all the chatter about nostalgia, family fun, and gift giving this time of year, many people don't like too much of a good thing," says Tod Marks, a senior editor at Consumer Reports, in a news release.

Whether it's getting into the season's spirit, disliking the commercialism, or searching for the perfect gift that brings out your inner Scrooge, here is a list of the top things that made those polled say "Bah, humbug." See where your own holiday pet peeves rank.

  1. Crowds and long lines: 68%
  2. Gaining weight: 37%
  3. Getting into debt: 37%
  4. Gift shopping: 28%
  5. Traveling: 25%
  6. Seeing certain relatives: 24%
  7. Seasonal music: 23%
  8. Disappointing gifts: 19%
  9. Having to attend holiday parties or events: 16%
  10. Having to be nice: 15%
  11. Holiday tipping: 12%

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