father christmas

    Dear Father Christmas: your work life is harming your health

    23 December 2016

    Dear Father Christmas,

    I was pleased to see you again at your annual health check, which we always do prior to your very busy night this weekend. As usual, I am writing to remind you about the key points of our consultation for future reference.

    You remain a single man (though there appeared to be some uncertainty on this point when pressed). You are also reluctant to tell me your age, although by my calculations you are around 1,720 years old and look reasonably well on it all things considered. In fact, you currently exceed the life expectancy of the average European male by some 1,645 years and for that you should be congratulated.

    Your job continues to be the main focus in your life, although you are finding the demands of current health and safety regulations increasingly frustrating. You already find Christmas Eve busy enough, what with visiting over 1,500 homes per second through the night.

    Recent edicts you now have to work to include wearing a high-visibility jacket and hard hat, using seatbelts during all take-off and landings, and having port and starboard designation lights fitted to your sleigh. (You find this last point particularly frustrating, since in previous years the glowing red nose of Rudolf has proved a most acceptable warning light for other air space users.)

    Turning to your physical health, your waist size has unfortunately further increased compared to last year, and you put this down to consuming several million mince pies in one night at 200 calories a time. We both agreed this was an area that you had some control over, although you do not like to disappoint people who have made special arrangements.

    You are currently classified as morbidly obese, which massively increases your risk of developing diabetes as well as significantly increasing your chances of suffering a heart attack and heart disease in general. Your waist size of well over 40 inches is an indicator of the level of internal fat deposits which coat the heart, kidneys, liver, digestive organs and pancreas and so increases your risk of heart disease and stroke as well as developing metabolic syndrome — a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

    Your liver tests also showed some abnormalities. Although you remain teetotal for most of the year, your consumption of several million units of alcohol in one night makes intoxication likely, as well as increasing your chances of being banned from driving for next year should you get caught.

    I suggested you avoid having ‘one for the road’ if possible, and you may wish to stick to a soft drink (after all, you do seem to be sponsored by one) but do remember that each 330ml can contains the equivalent of seven teaspoons of sugar.

    Your working pattern of being in close proximity to children both in their houses and shopping centres puts you at an increased risk of catching colds and flu, so I gave you your annual flu vaccination during our consultation.

    Your stress levels may be helped by not wearing red — this can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure — so you may want to try a more relaxing colour such as blue, although I understand your reluctance to do so at present.

    Not surprisingly, given your background as a Catholic bishop, you were somewhat reticent at divulging any sexual health problems. However, you report no urinary symptoms and can go right through Christmas night without needing to use the bathrooms of any house you visit. This suggests you may be free of any prostate trouble, which is very good going for a man of your age.

    Most of the time your stress levels remain manageable throughout the year and this is compatible with studies showing that senior managers are markedly less stressed than their middle management staff — something that may explain why your senior elves tend to turn to alcohol and nicotine at this time of year.

    With nine reindeer to tend to, you should also be feeling the benefits of pet ownership, as research has found that keeping animals can improve heart health and reduce stress levels, depression and obesity, and some studies have shown having a pet can increase life expectancy by up to two years.

    May I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for your busy night to come, and that you have a relaxing New Year afterwards. My invoice is in the post, and you already know what I want for Christmas.

    Yours sincerely,
    Dr Roger Henderson