It's awfully close to Christmas to be critical of the big guy in the red suit, but researchers behind a study published recently in the British Medical Journal apparently think they can get away with it.
The Grinches at Australia's Monash University concluded that the right jolly old elf is too fat and sedentary and a bad role model for kids.
That is wrong on so many levels, but academics sometimes get carried away with themselves and produce silly studies. These particular researchers see St. Nick not as Christmas magic but as a public health menace: an overweight character who eats too many cookies, drinks and drives too fast and engages in extreme sports such as roof surfing and chimney jumping -- while never wearing a seat belt or helmet.
The study suggests that Santa start rehabilitating his image of unhealthy behavior by sharing carrots and celery sticks with the reindeer, ditch the pipe he's often pictured with on Christmas cards and find a more active method of delivering toys like walking or jogging.
And what about all that ho-ho-hoing? The researchers say even though a clear link has not been established, there "is a possibility that Santa promotes a message that obesity is synonymous with cheerfulness and joviality."
Now, while we recognize that it is certainly important to teach children about healthy living and good nutrition, it's at least as important to let them be children when it comes to the Christmas season.
A fictional figure dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, who symbolizes the warmth and wonder of the season, shouldn't have to pass any treadmill test.
He just has to spread joy to those who still believe in a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. These days, we all can use the joy.