Savvy womens Magazine


Santa Claus:

by Kathleen Wooton M.D.

A Right Jolly Old Elf, or an Elderly Obese Male with a Cookie Fixation?

With a deadline fast approaching, and the start of the Holiday Trifecta on the horizon (Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa), I find myself scrambling to put together the perfect column for the season. A column sparkling with wit, nostalgia, and relevance that transcends personal deities, allowing us to embrace our common bond of humanity. I want to give you all a gift, to thank you for letting me grace your computer screen.

I know this is a humor column, but just this once, I'm not intentionally going for the funny bone. Christmas this year has changed at the Casa de Wooton, and I am holding Santa Claus, and his dietary excesses, personally responsible. Mr. Claus has been the poster 'child' for obesity and indulgence for decades, and his portly countenance has only served to underscore the epidemic of obesity so evident in Western society.

Santa ClausSo, the humorist in me is going after Santa Claus, the toy delivery icon to children worldwide. Please don't run me out on a rail, hear me out - I was a physician before I took the economically downward career plummet that landed me here. Don't get me wrong, I love writing, that's not my angle here. A cherished family member of mine was hospitalized the day after American Thanksgiving. It was determined that Type 2 diabetes was the condition behind the infection my loved one suffered. I submit that Mr. Claus, with his jelly-shaking belly, love for cookies, and lack of exercise in the face of morbid obesity, is the embodiment of Type 2 diabetes, and he's making it look fun, indeed, jolly, if you will.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when a patient can not release enough insulin from the pancreas to meet the blood glucose level. Obesity, along with a family history of diabetes, are major risk factors for the disease. Hypertension is often present, with the same risk factors (obesity, family history). Obesity, hypertension, and diabetes have even been found to be part of a disorder known as polyglandular syndrome. Would it surprise you all if I told you that high cholesterol and lipid levels are also associated with this constellation of diseases? Diabetes can cause heart disease, loss of limbs, stroke, blindness, and kidney disease. It can be treated with judicious underuse of eating utensils, specifically, weight loss. That, and exercise.

Mr. Claus is MR TYPE 2 DIABETES, wrapped in an ermine-trimmed red suit. He keeps a list, checks it twice, while sitting on his ample derriere, scarfing down high carb, high fat, low fiber, high calorie cookies and whole 'triple coronary bypass' milk. He's not doing physical work (the elves build the toys), he's too lazy to upgrade the sleigh (eight reindeer pulling his ample assets, those animals have to pass a stress test to pull the sleigh), and as for the chimney descents - well, I saw the Santa movies. The magic bagful of toys propels Santa down the chimney. Heck, I bet the toys place themselves around the tree.

Think carefully about what adults do around the holidays. Wherever there is a seasonal party, there are scores of adults piling on the party food, and the pounds. And the family holidays, well, there are usually huge platters of food, large disposable plates, and lots of recreational eating. Fats, processed carbs, enough protein to last the winter - all eaten rapidly, until the pants buttons are unloosed.

And Santa, the adjustable robe wearing, corpulent gift giver - he's smiling as he steals all the cookies. I doubt his pancreas can handle the millions of cookies without supplemental insulin. Between you all and me, I bet he is directly admitted to the North Pole General Hospital Intensive Care Unit right after his last toy delivery, in a diabetic stupor.

We don't need to be pushing the image of a rotund cookie and milk addict to enjoy the holiday spirit. We don't need mountains of food to share the season's joy with our families and friends. Love can be freely given without a single excess morsel passing the lips, by passing on the love and joy while passing over the culinary largesse. By curbing the indulgences so common during the Holiday Trifecta, you are literally saving what is most precious to you, your life, and the lives of your loved ones.

This year, cherish the gift of life you have been given.

Santa, well he's on his own.

'2006 Kathleen M. Wooton, M.D.

Discover more of Kathy's delightful humor here...