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FactFind: How much sugar does Santa consume in Ireland on Christmas Eve?

Most of us would leave out something for the arrival of the man from the North Pole, but how much does Santa get through?

Image: Robert Schlesinger DPA/PA Images

CHRISTMAS EVE IS a time of magic and wonder. But facts are facts, just as much on 24 December as they are on every other day of the year.

As we know, children across the globe are excitedly awaiting the arrival of Santa this year with his usual sackful of presents.

Going to that many places in one night must make the big man pretty hungry.

To show our appreciation in Ireland, it is customary to leave out a little treat for Santa and his reindeers so that they can recharge their batteries before setting off again.

Sugar has been high on the news agenda in recent months, with the long-mooted sugar tax finally announced by government in Budget 2018. “The government had to act… we have a public health crisis,” the HSE said.

So, with that in mind, today we’re asking: How much sugar does Santa consume in Ireland on Christmas Eve?

First of all, how many children does Santa visit here?

This would usually be a tricky thing to measure exactly.

Luckily we have fairly up-to-date figures on how many children live in Ireland, and what kind of accommodation they’re living in, thanks to Census 2016.

Right so, according to those figures, there are approximately 1.2 million children living in the State.

Santa doesn’t visit everyone individually, so let’s break it down by families.

There are 643,904 couples with children in Ireland, with 218,817 single-parent families.

No matter where you’re living, Santa is likely to make an appearance at some stage (even if we’re not lucky enough to spot him).

Breaking down the figures a bit more, there are around 829,600 households in the State with children that Santa will be visiting this evening.

Clearly, that’s an awful lot of mince pies. But not everyone leaves those out for the man from the North Pole. If we’re to determine how much sugar Santa consumes, we need to find out what Irish people leave out for him.

And what do we leave out for him?

shutterstock_470925800 Source: Shutterstock/inventbbart

Who leaves out what for Santa on Christmas Eve?

In a recent (thoroughly scientific) poll on TheJournal.ie, 36% of people said that they left milk and cookies.

Around 9% of people leave out mince pies and Guinness, 7% leave out Christmas cake with whiskey or brandy while 29% leave a combination of these.

We’ll use these results to help us arrive at the figure for Santa’s sugar consumption on Christmas Eve.

For those who said a combination, we’ll get an average of the sugar consumption for each of the treats plus the drink involved, and use that to arrive at a figure for that section of the population.

Sugar intake

So how much sugar is in a mince pie? It varies but a typical one will have around 21g of sugar.

There’s an even more sugar in a slice of Christmas cake, depending on how generous you are with your portion size. This would usually have around 36g of sugar per slice.

Your typical cookie obviously varies on the brand too, but leaving out three cookies could mean as much as 100g of sugar for Santa in one go.

A glass of milk has far less sugar, with only around 5-10g per glass.

So, if 9% of Irish households leave out mince pies, 36% leave out cookies, 9% opt for Guinness and 36% choose milk, here’s an approximate figure for how much sugar Santa has on Christmas Eve.

Trust us, we got a mathematical expert, [our editor *sic* ], to double check the figures.

On the basis of Santa visiting 829,600 places to drop off presents for over 1.2 million children, here’s what he eats:

  • So, milk. If at least 36% of the population leaves out a glass of milk for the man himself, that would mean Santa has milk in just under 300,000 homes. That translates to 2,986kg of sugar on milk alone.
  • Now, cookies. If the same proportion of the population has cookies, that would mean Santa consumes over 29,000kg of sugar in cookies alone.
  • Around 9% of households have mince pies, which means Santa gets them in 74,664 homes. This means he gets 1,567kg of sugar from mince pies.
  • If 7% of homes leave out Christmas cake, that translates to 2,090kg more of sugar for jolly old St Nick.
  • Santa is in luck on the whiskey front, from a sugar perspective, as the alcoholic drink has minimal or no sugar in it.
  • It’s harder to track down how much sugar is in Guinness, but the amount of added sugar in the drink would not significantly add to the figures.
  • Having spent quite a bit of time poring over the stats on a combination of those mentioned above, we can safely state that Santa would ingest an average of 16,000kg more sugar in households where a combo of treats have been laid out.

That’s all a bit mind boggling isn’t it? When you add it all up, it turns out that Santa has a mammoth 51,643kg of sugar on Christmas Eve in Ireland alone.

Burning it off

I’m sure you may be saying at this stage: Isn’t that an awful lot of sugar?

And you’d be right. Regularly exceeding the normal levels of sugar isn’t a good idea for just about everyone.

But this is Santa we’re talking about.

The World Health Organisation says that we should reduce our intake of sugar to 10% of our total energy intake for the day. This would equate to around 50g per day.

This would equate to Santa having around 1.03 million times the average daily recommended level of sugar in just one night.

But that doesn’t bear in mind the sheer amount of work Santa gets through in one night. As we saw here, Santa is able to deliver 360,000 presents every single hour.

And let’s not forget. This is a one off-event.

A North Pole spokesperson told TheJournal.ie that Santa keeps a measured and balanced diet for 364 days every year.

Everything in moderation, and all that. The spokesperson added that Santa has a strict fitness regime so that he can keep in shape so that the one night of sugar binging isn’t detrimental to his overall health.

Furthermore, a team of doctors at the North Pole monitor the health of Santa and his reindeer at all times on Christmas Eve, so they can immediately respond to any problems they may encounter.

The spokesperson did add, however, that this form of dieting isn’t really suited for anyone else.

“Santa’s hectic schedule on Christmas Eve is unlike anyone else so, although harmful, this level of sugar doesn’t have as bad an effect on Santa as it would on others,” they said.

We’ll let Santa away with this one. Ho, ho, ho.

shutterstock_513465844 Source: Shutterstock/vectorfusionart

Read: FactCheck: Can Santa really deliver all the world’s presents in one night?

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About the author:

Sean Murray

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