OBESITY IN AMERICA AND THE WORLD HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE “MYTHICAL” CHARACTER THAT IS SANTA CLAUS…THE OBESITY DEBATE ERRS JUST AS MUCH ON THE PRO-HEALTH SIDE AS THE OBESITY APOLOGISTS SIDE….BUT SANTA SHOULD NOT BE PROMOTING ALCOHOL AND CIGARETTES….
Santa Claus should snack on his reindeer’s carrots and get off his sleigh and jog as portrayals of the portly brandy-drinker promote obesity, drunk-driving and other unhealthy behaviors, an Australian doctor said.
The use of Santa in advertising should be regulated because images of him promoting alcohol and cigarettes convey potentially harmful messages, Nathan Grills, a public health researcher at Melbourne’s Monash University, wrote in the British Medical Journal. The red suit-wearing, white-bearded Father Christmas has become a “marketing ploy,” tarnishing the legend of Saint Nicholas and his gift-giving generosity, he said.
“He’s the most widely recognized fantasy figure in the world,” Grills said in a telephone interview today. “If he has such popular appeal, should he be advertising products like cigarettes, alcohol and obesity-linked foods?”
The tradition of leaving cookies, mince pies and brandy out for Santa on Dec. 24 to help sustain his nocturnal pre-Christmas toy deliveries should be stopped to improve the fictitious character’s diet and counter a global obesity epidemic, Grills said. The number of obese adults will swell to 700 million by 2015 from 400 million in 2005, spurring heart disease, diabetes and cancer, the World Health Organization estimates.
“Santa only needs to affect health by 0.1 percent to damage millions of lives,” said Grills, who referred to Web sites and previous studies to assess Santa’s potential negative impact on public health, including in India and China. “Like Coca-Cola, Santa has become a major export item to the developing world.”