Illinois Santa Claus on quest for weight loss

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois man who has played Santa Claus for 20 years is on a quest to lose weight, amid the nation’s growing obesity epidemic.

The State Journal-Register reports that George Robert Teel is one of three Santas who have sought weight loss help from the Memorial Weight Loss and Wellness Center in Springfield. Teel weighs about 300 pounds (136 kilograms) and wants to lose 50 pounds (23 kilograms) to manage his heart problems, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

Teel says he wants to be healthy so he can spend as much time as possible with his family. He says he’s lost six pounds so far by eating better and practicing calorie control.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 32 percent of adults in Illinois and 30 percent of American adults are obese.