Receiving milk and cookies from hundreds of millions of children at night may not model the healthiest habits, but it is only one night a year.

Given that Santa’s more than 1,700 years old, he must be doing something right. As the night before Christmas nears, let’s take a closer look at Santa’s health.

  • A jolly old elf: Giving, rather than acquiring, makes people happier and contributes to overall well-being.
  • His eyes: How they twinkled – Santa’s twinkling eyes show the happiness he carries and maybe even hint at a little mischief. Expecting any coal in your stocking this year?
  • Stump of a pipe: At one time, Santa smoked a pipe, which can cause an array of tobacco-related health problems. He hasn’t been seen with a pipe in a while, so we hope he’s given up this naughty habit.
  • Cheeks like roses, nose like a cherry: Rosacea may cause facial redness, or Santa may have windburn from flying on a cold night. Leaving out a little lip balm may help him protect his skin.
  • Chubby and plump: Carrying belly fat is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, and other health ailments, and Santa may need to watch how many cookies he eats. Drinking low-fat milk, though, can help strengthen his bones.
  • Eight tiny reindeer: Having pets may be one key to his longevity. Pet ownership can lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol, maybe even offset some effects of the cookies.
  • Lively and quick: Inspecting his workshop, tending the reindeer, and climbing up and down chimneys should give Santa a pretty rigorous exercise routine, helping him stay fit and active.

Overall, Santa seems to stay pretty fit and healthy to continue delivering toys. This year, think about leaving some healthier cookies and low-fat milk for his snacks, along with treats for the reindeer.

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A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to