Santa's a Terrible Role Model for Kids
He's obese, doesn't wear a helmet, and could be spreading swine flu
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 17, 2009 4:00 PM CST
Where's your helmet, man?   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – There really is a Santa Claus—and he's a public health menace, warns a light-hearted new study in a British medical journal. It identifies a "very high Santa awareness" among children and determines that he's a reckless role model with his frequent cookie snacks, occasional cigars, and refusal to don a helmet during "extreme sports such as roof surfing and chimney jumping."

"Santa is a late adopter of evidence-based behavior change and continues to sport a rotund, sedentary image," writes Australian public health expert Nathan Grills. What's more, "Santa promotes a message that obesity is synonymous with cheerfulness and joviality." And most disturbingly, Santa's close-up contact with sniffling, coughing kids made him a one-man outbreak waiting to happen. "Unsuspecting little Johnny gets to sit on Santa's lap, but as well as his present, he gets H1N1 influenza," Grills warns.