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Friday 30 September 2016

Working it out: That Stubborn Stone . . . or 6.3 kg

John Masterson

Published 05/10/2015 | 02:30

Dr Ciara Kellyaddressed binge drinking on Operation Transformation
Dr Ciara Kellyaddressed binge drinking on Operation Transformation

I refer to it as that Stubborn Stone. I could refer to it as that 6.35 kilos of midriff that greets me each morning but, while that may sound better, the problem would not be any smaller.

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Every year I have decided that this 14lbs of flab would be gone by Christmas. It was to be my present to myself. Each year when I took off my festive wrapping, my Stubborn Stone was still very much in evidence. The only thing to feel pleased about was that while it stubbornly did not decrease, it has been kind enough not to expand.

I was present at a wedding last weekend. I say present because I was not a guest. I was merely staying in the hotel and watched the proceedings as I ate my meal and had a drink. I mentioned my stubborn stone as a preface to observing others. I am far from perfect. I mean this in the way Dr Ciara Kelly bravely told Brendan O'Connor on television that, while she knew of all of the ill-effects of binge drinking, she had not led a blameless life. On occasion, she had moved into the very territory she was cautioning us about. Me too.

What struck me about the wedding guests was the number of young women, twentyish to thirtyish, who had let their stubborn stones multiply very early in their lives. I simply lost count of the number who were very, very, very obese and had my problem five- or six-fold. These were not people who did not care about their appearance. They were dolled up to the nines. Their hair was immaculate. Great attention had been paid to make-up. And they cooed at each other and told each other how great they looked in the way that women do. Not one of them mentioned the elephants in the room. These young women were heading rapidly into serious health issues that were easily avoidable.

Several walked around with a glass in one hand holding the bottle by the neck in the other and topping up as needed. Many were accompanied by men, who almost all looked fit and well by comparison.

A small conference of some sort, also in the hotel, then broke for dinner. I don't know the nature of their business, but 16 women from 30 upwards were immaculately groomed and you could add them all together and there wasn't a Stubborn Stone.

In my college days, we studied social markers, things that indicated what class a person might belong to. These markers are crude, but informative. It seems to me that smoking and obesity are declining in the middle classes where people have good incomes and life satisfaction, and increasing among those less fortunate and probably less educated.

I suspect that all the advertising and health campaigns in the world are not having a scintilla of effect on the very people who most need to change their behaviour.

Roll on, Christmas.

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