Analysis reveals the 10 biggest Santas – according to their BMI

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Santa Claus is morbidly obese with a BMI of 41.5 – with the largest portrayal coming in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Researchers analysed 10 popular festive films, TV shows and adverts to calculate his average BMI, revealing he far exceeds healthy weight of between 18.5 to 24.9 – and just creeps into the morbidly obese category as his is over 40. 

Tim Burton’s festive fright has Santa standing at 5ft 5in and weighing in at 300 pounds – meaning his BMI is a massive 49.9.

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He is also on the bigger side in The Snowman and Elf, where his BMI checks in at 45.5 and 44.7, respectively. However, the slimmest Santa was played by Richard Attenborough in Miracle on 34th Street. At 5ft 6ins and a weight of 176 pounds – his BMI here is 28.4, meaning he’s the only Santa which isn’t considered obese.

The analysis was conducted by researchers at ZAVA, who reviewed a combination of factors – such as the height of the actor – and compared visual depictions with imagery of body shapes and their known weights to calculate his BMI.

It comes after the online doctor also commissioned a poll of 2,000 adults which found one in four think these plumper Santas actually encourage overeating during the Christmas period.

To help address these unhealthy portrayals, ZAVA have used an AI image generator to imagine want Santa could look like with a healthier BMITo help address these unhealthy portrayals, ZAVA have used an AI image generator to imagine want Santa could look like with a healthier BMI
To help address these unhealthy portrayals, ZAVA have used an AI image generator to imagine want Santa could look like with a healthier BMI

Dr Babak Ashrafi, clinical lead for service development at ZAVA, which compiled a ‘Nutritional Naughty and Nice List’ featuring simple swaps for classic Christmas food and drinks, said: “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.

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“In fact, his weight in most of these festive favourites is actually considered dangerous and he would urgently need to change his lifestyle – otherwise could encounter a raft of weight related problems, including diabetes and heart problems. As we are more conscious than ever when it comes to unhealthy portrayals having a knock-on impact on our own health, it seems many reckon Father Christmas could do with shedding a few pounds to continue spreading festive cheer for many years to come.”

The research also found 55 per cent admit their healthy eating and drinking habits will ‘go out of the window’ this Christmas, while 31 per cent find it difficult to say no to indulgent food and drink when they are in the festive mood. But 80 per cent do believe Christmas time in general encourages an over consumption of decadent foods.

However, 32 per cent will try to keep an eye on their calorie intake over the festive period – as 19 per cent always try to be healthy, so won’t change at this time of year.

Whereas 14 per cent of these want to avoid putting on weight during the festive celebrations, the poll conducted via OnePoll found. That said, roast potatoes, pigs in blankets and turkey breast are the foods Christmas revellers would not be prepared to swap out for a healthier alternative - and many will draw the line at stuffing, mince pies and Christmas pudding when it comes to seeking healthier options.

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Dr Babak Ashrafi at ZAVA, which offers medical treatments including weight-loss products, added: “As the holiday season tempts our taste buds with festive delights, it's an annual challenge to resist the allure of beloved treats. Christmas brings cherished traditions and flavours, making it difficult to say no to the classics we hold dear. While relishing these festive delights, it's important to savour in moderation, keeping a watchful eye on our intake and embracing mindful choices to ensure that our celebrations are not only delightful but also healthy.”

Biggest on-screen Santa’s – according to their BMI

  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (movie, 1993) – 5 foot 5 inches (165 cm) / 300 pounds / 49.9 (Obese)
  2. The Snowman (TV, 1982) and Father Christmas (TV, 1991) – 5 foot 7 inches (170 cm) / 290 pounds / 45.5 (Obese)
  3. Elf (movie, 2003) – 5 foot 5 inches (165 cm) / 270 pounds / 44.7 (Obese)
  4. Fred Claus (movie, 2007) – 5 foot 9 inches (175 cm) / 300 pounds / 44.2 (Obese)
  5. Coca-Cola advert / 5 foot 10 inches (178 cm) / 300 pounds / 43 (Obese)
  6. Arthur Christmas (movie, 2011) – 5 foot 8 inches (173 cm) / 280 pounds / 42.5 (Obese)
  7. NORAD (Santa Tracker) – 5 foot 7 inches (170 cm) / 260 pounds / 40.7 (Obese)
  8. The Santa Clause (movie, 1994) – 5 foot 8 inches (173 cm) / 260 pounds / 39.5 (Obese)
  9. Santa Claus: The Movie (movie, 1985) – 5 foot 9 inches (175 cm) / 250 pounds /  36.7 (Obese)
  10. Miracle on 34th Street (movie, 1994) – 5 foot 6 inches (168 cm) / 176 pounds / 28.4 (Overweight)
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