The high death rate just after Christmas cannot be put down to chance. Part of the phenomenon can be explained by infections.
But stress, loneliness and extremely unhealthy eating habits over the Christmas period are also contributory factors.
Former state epidemiologist Johan Giesecke discovered the phenomenon while working for the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control.
“Those weeks were almost always highest. I never understood why that was,” said Giesecke.
Over the last ten years fatality figures for the period December 25 to January 7 have been well above the annual average.
Large quantities of fatty and salty foods, combined with a lack of activity, can cause heart attacks or strokes for those already in the risk zone. And statistics for these maladies are indeed one percentage point higher for the period just after Christmas
But sickness and unhealthy living alone are not sufficient to explain the higher yuletide death figures. It is very likely that loneliness and exclusion also contribute to the seasonal mortality rate.