'People slap my belly all the time, and the truth is, it really hacks me off,' he says, with quite unexpected feeling. 'It's because I'm a man. Everything's a joke when it comes to overweight men. Women have it much easier.
'No one would ever say, "Oh, you're fair piling on the beef there" or "That's some ass you've got on you". They wouldn't pat a woman's tummy or prod her thighs. But, as a bloke, I can tell you that it happens all the time. They go, "Oi, Eamonn, that's some paunch". People feel they can touch you, and I hate it. If another person lays a finger on me...'
He pulls his jacket around the midriff in question. 'The thing is that they never expect a man to be offended. They do expect women to - and know that if they said those things to a woman, she would probably burst into tears or slap them. Well, I am offended, too, even though I've done my fair share of laughing along with it. Men do hide behind jokes when it comes to being overweight. They wear it as some sort of trophy, laughing along with all those, "you'd better cut down on the beer" jibes. I hardly ever even drink beer.'
Sometimes, people try to give Eamonn diet advice while patting his belly, which is a big mistake. 'What gets me is all those people who say, "Eamonn, I lost three stone just by cutting out sugar in my tea". If one more person says that to me I will scream.Even worse are the people who say, "Eamonn, I have to tell you that what worked for me was cutting out bread. I just cut out bread and, do you know, I lost seven stone in no time." Why do these people seek me out? I always think, "**** off!"'
We've all been there, Eamonn. Men get the more obvious comments and have to try to treat them as a joke, I suppose. But I think women know that the comments are lurking there unsaid - unless you visit a health professional, of course, and then they may not remain unsaid. I recently had to see a doctor who hadn't met me before, and it seemed inevitable that my weight had to enter the conversation. Of course, health professionals are advised to bring up weight issues, as part of their role in tackling obesity. I think there is a misunderstanding that fat people are fat because they didn't notice they were fat. And if their fatness is pointed out to them, they will then eat less and become less fat.