An earnest, fluent, powerful workshop took place in The Strand, Omeath, Co Louth, Ireland, on Saturday 29 January 2011 starting soon after 14.00 and concluding at 17.30. This was the 11th annual winter workshop organised by Cooley Environmental and Health Group and the topic this time was Obesity. It should be pointed out that the group is not an expert group and while all the participants enjoyed the workshop and gained something from it no prescriptions emerged from the workshop and Cooley Environmental and Health Group is telling no-one what to do about obesity viewed either as a personal problem or as an increasing societal problem.

Self-discipline seems to be the way. And there is probably need for some kind of sport or exercise routine to compensate for our increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

There is not much obesity in times of famine. Prosperity seems to be a cause of obesity even though cheaper foods tend to be more fattening.

Although as Yinka pointed out the number of overweight people in Ireland is greater than the number of underweight people eating too little is probably a greater problem than eating too much. In particular young people and old people need a nourishing diet.

Among the causes of obesity things like faulty sleeping patterns, watching TV, thyroid problems; were mentioned. The emotional problems arising out of obesity were adverted to and even suicide.

Willie Jones, head barman in The Strand, described difficulties that can arise in coping with obese guests. Even things like the specifications of shower trays as well as the width of doors and the strength of beds have be considered.

Paddy Martin pointed out the cost of obesity to the tax-payer particulary increased health costs. The Archbishop floated the idea of a tax on bodyweight - an idea he may live to regret if it ever comes in to force.

Seán Crudden presented a paper on Mental Health and Obesity. The short paper was prepared by Michal Caletka, a member of Kolumbus which is the Czech counterpart of IMPERO. Seán is secretary of IMPERO. He met Michal last Autumn at an important conference in Aristotle University, Thessaloniki. The paper pointed up the well-known paradox that neuroleptics and anti-depressants which are used to treat mental illness seem, inevitably, to cause obesity with all its attendant problems.

Professor Dennis Pringle drew attention to another dangerous paradox. Many young women take up smoking in the belief that it will keep their weight under control.

Archbishop Michael Desmond Hynes OMD PhD facilitated the workshop in excellent and customary fashion. Those who attended were; Seán Crudden, Yinka Dixon, Michael Corrigan, Don Johnston, Kevin McGeough, Pat Ferrigan, Paddy Martin, Lorna Martin, Eamonn O'Boyle, Christina O'Boyle, Kola Adeneye, Isaac Adewole, Wally Ogundipe, William Murrayho, Eric Hynes, Kevin Hynes, Willie Jones, Dennis Pringle, Dermot Mooney. Apologies were received from Anne Muldowney, Harry Lee.

Archbishop Michael D Hynes
Secretary/PRO Cooley Environmental & Health Group (CEHG)