Published: 05/05/2005, Volume II5, No. 5954 Page 28
It was a sad thing to see. Steven Smith is 24 years old and 26 stone. A massage made him cry.
It all happened at Freedom Paradise, near Cancun in Mexico - the world's first resort for the larger person - as featured in ITV's recent documentary Welcome to Fatland.
Five Brits weighing between 21 and 26 stone spent a week there with a barmy American life-coach/fat-activist who tries to help them, er, get out of themselves.
And the loveable Steven was typical. I suspect he has wanted a girlfriend for years but his size has made him hide away. How could you not warm to him? I reckon they would be queuing up if he had a milligramme of self-confidence.
And it was clear that the soft and caring touch of the masseur was rare enough to move him to tears. We should never let anyone get to that point, whether they're round, thin or square. I say that sincerely; two out of three apply to me.
But the American guru Marilyn Wann (herself a respectable 19st 4lbs) took the prize for the least believable person on set. None of our five believed her when she said she did not want to be slimmer. With me, that made six.
Still, the culture clash was good spectator sport. When she tried to make the classically reserved Brits pull funny faces and sing idiotic songs, supposedly to improve morale, she had clearly met her match. It was a pleasure to see her head off for a sulk afterwards.
Steve Collins is deputy chief executive, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare trust.