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If you’re pudgy rather than svelte, will Santa Claus still come to your town?

Monday, November 17, 2008 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD

“All Santa wants this Christmas is for kids to lose a few of those extra pounds”, reads the opening line to an article published today by the Calgary Herald, which you can read here.

The prevalence of childhood obesity has indeed been increasing dramatically in the recent past, giving rise to global concern. But who knew that the childhood obesity epidemic would have an impact on how Santa Claus does business? Apparently, if you are a “pudgy” rather than “svelte” kid Santa Claus may still come to your town, but he is unlikely to have you sit on his lap, suggests the article.

The official Santa Claus manual of operating procedures, as developed by Victor Nevada, who has portrayed jolly St. Nick for over 2 decades, has recently been updated to include specific procedures on dealing with morbidly obese children. This new chapter warns against allowing obese children to sit on Santa’s lap to avoid possible damage to Santa’s knees and back – problems which Santa is already prone to on account of carrying heavy sacks of toys and climbing up and down chimneys. Instead, when faced with an obese child, all Santas are instructed by Nevada to “bring them in close and establish a bond.”

Thus, obese kids, who already endure tremendous discrimination are now also instructed by St. Nick, as the song may soon go, ‘to be lean for goodness sake.’ This instruction is particularly hypocritical coming from Santa. All joking aside, I find it astonishing how many aspects of society are affected by our collectively burgeoning waistlines – from the size of plane seats, and now apparently to a weight cut-off for Santa’s knee.

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2 Response to "If you’re pudgy rather than svelte, will Santa Claus still come to your town?"

  1. elo Said,

    On Santa's hypocrisy - a good way for Santa to help limit the weight of the kids wanting to sit on his lap might be for him to slim down himself.

    Dr. Tantillo ('the marketing doctor') has a marketing and branding blog and did a recent post on Santa's need for what he refers to as a 'brandover':

    Santa can be plump and huggable, but he shouldn’t be a walking heart attack. And besides, being fat isn’t a Santa brand essential. Being caring and generous are essentials. But what’s caring or generous about leading kids down the fast track to diabetes? No thanks, Santa."

    Full post:

    Posted on December 8, 2008 at 9:57 PM

  2. Peter Janiszewski, PhD (Cand.), MSc Said,

    Thanks for the comment elo - I just checked the blog you suggested - quite interesting perspective.

    I am partly of the mind that having some positive examples of obesity in society may not be such a bad thing. Not that long ago plumpness was associated with wealth and intelligence. There was even a Fat Man's Club - most aristocratic circle of its time. This has changed drastically in recent years with obese children and adults becoming social pariahs.

    While setting positive and healthy examples is important - these must formost be provided by parents, teachers, etc. The media's portrayal of society has not been in sync with reality for a long time - how many obese lead characters do you see in primetime tv versus in your daily life? Thus, having an obese Santa in a sea of uber-thin models/actresess and buff actors, may actually tip the balance closer to reality.

    Posted on December 18, 2008 at 9:40 PM


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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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