Santa Claus sets a bad example

From the Chicago Tribune 18/12/09:

Santa Claus should get off his sleigh and walk, run or bike, according to a cheeky public health doctor, who says Santa’s commercial image promotes obesity, reckless air travel and a general unhealthy lifestyle.

“His popularity should be used to promote healthy living,” Dr. Nathan Grills from Monash University in Australia argued in a light-hearted "analysis" in the Christmas issue of

In 2007 acting U.S. surgeon general Steven K. Gallson declared that Santa should be thinner. Despite the public outrage, Grills has jumped on the bandwagon. He wants Santa to lose his belly fat (the most dangerous kind), to eat carrots instead of energy-dense cookies and to don a helmet while participating in “extreme sports such as roof surfing and chimney jumping.”

Santa ClausI tweeted earlier this month that I’d seen a new safety-conscious Santa doing the rounds in the neighbourhood who had ditched the reindeer and donned on a hi-visibility jacket.  To be fair, the image wasn’t wholly convincing, not even to a 5 year old: red and white hat, untidy dark stubble, hi-vis jacket and aging jeans.  His sleigh had been replaced by a flat-bed trailer complete with stereo pumping out some awful Xmas musical number.

Thankfully, it seems that Gallson had intended his suggestions to be amusing – which is certainly how I found them when I stumbled across them in the Metro last Thursday morning.   I’m not sure that many kids look to Santa as a role model, fashion icon or anything to style themselves upon.


  1. These "'elf and safety gone mad" stories are becoming a Christmas tradition. While Mr Gallson may very well have intended this to be amusing, EU Commissioner Kuneva was not laughing when she announced that "[fairy lights] are likely to electrocute you or set fire to your house":

    Personally, the commercial-ish lawyer in me prefers the following (lighthearted) piece - "Santa Claus’s Trade Infractions":


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