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 from Monash University in Australia 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.
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