In a tongue-in-cheek assessment of Saint Nicholas’ health, the nation’s leading GP said he was also likely to suffer from alcoholism and work stress.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), warned: “He’s overweight and all of us do our bit to add to his obesity by leaving mince pies and cookies for him and milk or alcohol.
“He may have gout, he may have alcoholism – there’s a real bit of binge drinking going on.”
She said: “There are also issues with sleep deprivation, work stress, his mental health.”
Father Christmas’ nine reindeer – Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen – are also a cause for concern as they could be carrying ticks infested with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Professor Stokes-Lampard said that if Santa was her patient she would recommend he “gives the sherry a miss this year – and maybe asks Rudolph if he can share his carrots”.
On a more serious note, she said that many people tend to overindulge when it comes to alcohol during the festive period.
“Santa is almost certainly living with multiple morbidities which, if left untreated, can become increasingly distressing and debilitating,” Professor Stokes-Lampard said.
“If Mr Claus was a patient at my practice, I would be encouraging him to adopt a vastly healthier diet and take more exercise in the new year.
“I’d also be keen to address his binge drinking, something which many people – perhaps even unknowingly – tend to do while celebrating Christmas.
“The human body can only process one unit of alcohol per hour, which means excessive consumption could make Santa drunk very quickly.
“This not only increases the likelihood of him slipping in the snow or mixing up important presents, but could also lead to long-term issues affecting his mood and mental health.”
Meanwhile, new research by Skinny Lager estimates that on Christmas Eve Santa will be served an estimated 8.3 billion calories in the UK alone, including more than nine million mince pies and 16 million glasses of sherry.
Over a fifth in the UK think alcohol contributes to 30% or more of their entire calorie intake over the Christmas period, it was found.