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Should Santa slim down?

(The Washington Post)

Here's a topic about which I'm confident The Checkup readers will have opinions: According to this recent Washington Post article, there's a move afoot to urge Santa to slim down.

Not only is the jolly old elf too chubby for his own good, skinny-Santa advocates argue, setting him up for health problems such as heart attack, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, he's also setting a bad example for all those kids who look up to him.

Nobody knows exactly what the real Santa looks like. Historically, and still today in many traditions, he's of average weight or even thin. But we Americans have in the past century come to embrace the guy with the "little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly."

Okay, maybe that jelly-belly's not such a good thing. But honestly, what kid looks at Santa and decides he or she wants to look like him? Even subconsciously, do you think Santa, who shows up for just a short time at the end of every year, has any effect on anybody's weight?

As for his eating habits, well, maybe snacking on cookies and milk at millions of households in a single evening isn't the best example to set. But I don't know of any kid who has an opportunity for that massive a pig-out, do you?

I say leave Santa alone, and let him enjoy his milk and cookies. If parents feel they must, they can turn Christmas into a "teachable moment" and point out how lousy Santa's eating and exercise habits are. That ought to be festive....

Here's your chance to weigh in. Results of this poll will be delivered directly to the North Pole.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  December 22, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Nutrition and Fitness  
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For goodness' sake - we, as adults, go to movies, read novels, watch TV shows that are fantasy - not real (and that includes the so-called "reality TV"). Most children know by the time they are 7 or 8 years old that Santa Claus is not "real".

Stop with the political correctness! Let children dream and believe and trust in something good while they can. Reality hits all too soon, especially in this day and age.

Posted by: Utahreb | December 22, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

No, no, no, no, no. Santa is not a role model. Kids don't grow up wanting to be Santa, for crying out loud. Leave him alone.

And guess what? None of the other alarmist tactics for getting Americans healthier and thinner are working, why would this one?

It's just plain ridiculous.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 22, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

IT WAS A JOKE!! The article in the BMJ was among a group of Christmas-themed spoofs of scientific articles that the mainstream media completely fell for.

Posted by: plurie | December 22, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

plurie is correct: the BMJ paper was strictly tongue-in-cheek. It was designed to be a send-up of pompous, overwritten research papers.

The Houston Chronicle has the story, and a statement from Nathan Grills (the lead author):

Posted by: elowe1 | December 22, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

The more you change what Americans love, the more you will find us revolting with our wallets and votes behind the closed curtain.

Change too much, and we WILL begin showing up to forcefully remove people from office before their term is over...

Torches and Pitchforks... Protecting The People from Government Since 1791

Posted by: ProveMeWrong | December 22, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

And it was an excellent joke, too.

That aside, Santa already *has* slimmed down--compare representations of Santa from the past couple decades with illustrations form the nineteenth century.

Posted by: dfbdfb | December 22, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I don't think large people are fat, but often muscular. Today's Santa isn't portrayed as the worker bee who was a mighty man, but someone with a weakness. It would be nice if Santa was someone who was larger than life, a worker and a mighty man. No he doesn't need to be small.

Posted by: TinMan2 | December 25, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

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