Shop owners are being warned about portraying Santa Claus in his traditional “fat” manner by doctors.
The odd warning comes from an Australian health researcher and food scientist who claims that Jolly Old Saint Nick should be shown as “thin and healthy” because of the damage it could cause children.
Since Santa was first made into a slightly chubby man wearing red in the 1920s by Coca-Cola, the traditional version of Father Christmas has dominated the landscape.
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From shop fronts to pretty much every television advert at Christmas time, Santa is depicted as a fat bloke.
But Dr Vincent Candrawinata has slammed companies for doing this.
Speaking to news.com.au, he said: “Shopping centres should not go above and beyond and make a concerted effort to make Santa look fat.
“For a lot for us, myself included, it’s one of our earliest, joyful childhood memories and I think that it can have a profound positive impact on children when they don’t see the association with a joyful holiday and the urge to gorge and overindulge in terms of food and beverages.”
Dr Candrawinata also laid the responsibility of educating children about Santa not being fat at the feet of already-far-too-busy parents.
He said: “Perhaps parents can start the conversation with the kids that maybe leaving green and red apples – which are Christmas colours – for Santa can be a healthier alternative, because at the end of the day we have to start somewhere.
“In 2012 in Canada there was a push to ban the portrayal of Santa with the smoking pipe and that worked.
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“If Santa can drop one unhealthy habit maybe it can be the beginning of something better, showing kids you can be happy, healthy, jolly without having to be overweight.”
Far from being a grinch or scrooge, Dr Candrawinata explained that he was making the comments because he knows about the issue of heart disease on a personal level.
“I lost my grandpa to heart disease and I really do think it had a lot to do with him being overweight,” he said.
“I really do think someone needs to talk about this, and this is the reason I am in the field I am.”
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