He is the very epitome of joy and mirth. If you look up “jolly” in the dictionary, you’re likely to find his picture. He has devoted his life to delivering toys and gifts to children all over the world, even though it means living the life of an outcast in the frozen north. He is every child’s best friend. He is Santa Claus. And he sets a bad example for kids.
Dr. Nathan Grills, writing in the British Medical Journal, posits that Kris Kringle is, quite simply, a poor excuse for a role model for kids. Grills, a Public Health Fellow with the Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, accuses the “jolly old elf” of promoting such unhealthy practices as smoking, speeding, and not wearing either a seat belt or helmet. In addition, his “rotund sedentary image” effectively makes “obesity synonymous with cheerfulness and joviality.”
“We need to be aware that Santa has an ability to influence people, and especially children, towards unhealthy behaviour,” said Dr. Grills. “Given Santa’s universal appeal, and reasoning from a public health perspective, Santa needs to affect health by only 0.1 per cent to damage millions of lives.” Dr. Grills suggests that, in addition to other lifestyle changes, perhaps Santa should consider delivering toys on foot or by bicycle.
And just in case Father Christmas needs a little incentive, I suspect we’d see a lot more mommies kissing Santa Claus if he was more Clark Gable and less Clark Bar.