NEW YORK — A bunch of researchers are headed straight to the naughty list after judging Santa Claus to be “morbidly obese.”

The grinches explain that depictions of Santa in popular media often paint Jolly Old St. Nick as having an average Body Mass Index (BMI) significantly over the healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9. The most extreme case was found in “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” where Santa’s BMI was calculated at an alarming 49.9.

The research, conducted by ZAVA, analyzed Santa’s portrayal in 10 well-known festive films, TV shows, and advertisements. The study reveals that in many instances, Santa’s BMI is over 40, classifying him as morbidly obese. In “The Snowman” and “Elf,” his BMI was projected to be 45.5 and 44.7, respectively. However, the slimmest portrayal of Santa was by Richard Attenborough in “Miracle on 34th Street,” with a BMI of 28.4, which does not classify him as obese.

This analysis involved examining factors such as the height and weight of the actor portraying Santa and comparing these figures with known body shapes and weights to calculate BMI. ZAVA’s research also includes a survey of 2,000 British adults, which found that one in four believe these portrayals of an unhealthy Santa encourage overeating during the holiday season.

Scroll down to see a list of 10 hefty on-screen Santas

Santa Claus sitting in a chair
Photo by Sean P. Twomey On Unsplash

“Over the years there have been many beloved depictions of Santa. But across all these variations, one thing has stood the test of time – and that’s him being on the larger side. In fact, his weight in most of these festive favorites is actually considered dangerous, and he would urgently need to change his lifestyle – otherwise, he could encounter a raft of weight-related problems, including diabetes and heart problems,” says spokesperson Dr. Babak Ashrafi, clinical lead for service development at ZAVA, in a statement. “As we are more conscious than ever when it comes to unhealthy portrayals having a knock-on impact on our own health, it would seem many believe Father Christmas could make a few healthier choices to continue spreading festive cheer for many years to come.”

The study also reveals that 55 percent of respondents admit their healthy eating habits are sidelined during Christmas, with 31 percent finding it hard to resist indulgent foods. Despite this, 80 percent acknowledge that the holiday season promotes overconsumption of rich foods. However, 32 percent plan to monitor their calorie intake and 19 percent intend to maintain their healthy habits during the holidays.

The survey, conducted by OnePoll, also finds that while 14 percent of respondents aim to avoid weight gain during the festive season, there are certain traditional foods like roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, and turkey breast that most are unwilling to replace with healthier alternatives. Conversely, items like stuffing, mince pies, and Christmas pudding are where some people look for healthier options.

“The holiday season tempts us with festive treats, making it a yearly challenge to resist these flavors. While enjoying these traditional foods, it’s important to practice moderation and mindful eating to ensure our holiday celebrations are both enjoyable and healthy,” Dr. Ashrafi adds.

Biggest On-Screen Santas – According To Their BMI:

  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – 5 foot, 5 inches – 300 pounds – 49.9 (Obese)
  2. The Snowman (1982) and Father Christmas (1991) – 5 foot, 7 inches – 290 pounds – 45.5 (Obese)
  3. Elf (2003) – 5 foot, 5 inches – 270 pounds – 44.7 (Obese)
  4. Fred Claus (2007) – 5 foot, 9 inches – 300 pounds – 44.2 (Obese)
  5. Coca-Cola (TV ad) – 5 foot, 10 inches – 300 pounds – 43 (Obese)
  6. Arthur Christmas (2011) – 5 foot, 8 inches – 280 pounds – 42.5 (Obese)
  7. NORAD (Santa Tracker) – 5 foot, 7 inches – 260 pounds – 40.7 (Obese)
  8. The Santa Clause (1994) – 5 foot, 8 inches – 260 pounds – 39.5 (Obese)
  9. Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) – 5 foot, 9 inches – 250 pounds – 36.7 (Obese)
  10. Miracle on 34th Street (1994) – 5 foot, 6 inches – 176 pounds – 28.4 (Overweight)

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