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Does Santa really need more cookies?

December 21st, 2009     by Julia Horel     Comments

(Hi, everyone! Cate has kindly asked me to stay on as a permanent blogger after my guest-blogging stint in November. Pleased to be on board!)

This is an actual question asked by an Pennsylvania medical association in this article, which goes on to calculate Santa’s yearly caloric intake for cookies consumed in the state.

“Thanks to the magic of Christmas, [Santa] can avoid putting on that much weight,” said medical society spokesman Chuck Moran. But most people aren’t so fortunate, and will put on one pound for every 3,500 calories consumed but not burned.

Because naturally, the most important lesson children should learn during the holiday season is that cookies and other treats should be restricted, that weight gain is “unfortunate,” and that even though Santa’s magic prevents him from gaining weight, unrestrained eating is still inherently bad. Even when it’s during a special occasion.

As pointed out by A Sarah at Shapely Prose, it seems we’ve forgotten that children are actually supposed to gain weight (growth, remember?). Children should be allowed to get excited about having treats. Children, particularly young girls, who are most susceptible to developing eating disorders, should not be focused on the “Santa Snack Plan” (which suggests, among other things - hello! eating disorder trigger! - “taking only small tastes of less healthy food”). Younger and younger girls (and boys, but in smaller numbers) are becoming obsessed with weight and calories. What happened to being a kid and going crazy for holiday desserts?

The various holidays celebrated this time of year seem to have the enjoyment of family, friends and good food in common. There are enough adults moaning about calories and New Year’s resolutions to lose weight - do we really need to start guilting children about holiday indulgences, too?

Tags: body politics

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