Santa promotes obesity and drink-driving, claims nanny state health expert
Traditional images of Santa Claus set a bad example and could promote obesity and drink driving, a public health expert has warned.
Dr Nathan Grills said the idea of a fat Father Christmas gorging on brandy and mince pies as he drove his sleigh around the world delivering presents was not the best way to promote a healthy and safe lifestyle among the young.
Writing on bmj.com, Dr Grills said: “Santa only needs to affect health by 0.1 per cent to damage millions of lives.”
He said the image of a healthier Santa could be very effective in promoting a positive message about diet and lifestyle to the young.
Dr Grills carried out a review of literature and web based material to assess Santa’s potential negative impact on public health.
The investigation revealed very high Santa awareness among children, with children in America stating he was the only fictional character more highly recognised than Ronald McDonald.
Dr Grills also claimed the image of Santa was often used to promote unhealthy products such as soft drinks.
He wrote:”Like Coca-Cola, Santa has become a major export item to the developing world.”
While Santa is now banned from smoking, images of him enjoying a pipe or cigar can still be found on Christmas cards.
Father Christmas could also potentially promote drink driving, argued Grills, referring to the tradition of leaving Santa Claus a brandy to wish him well on his travels.
And in a further blow to one of the central symbols of Christmas, Dr Grills claimed Santa also had the potential to spread harmful diseases.
“If Santa sneezes or coughs around 10 times a day, all the children who sit on his lap may end up with swine flu as well as their Christmas present,” he said.