Double Chins: A Tell-Tale Sign of Ageing and Neglect

It’s easy to conceal a middle aged spread, by wearing a body belt or voluminous skirt. But how do

you hide a double chin? Make-up can be used to beautify a woman’s face, but the cosmetic industry can offer no products capable of hiding creased and sagging jowls. This was the complaint of Nora Ephron, the award winning screenwriter of movies like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. She wrote a magazine article entitled “I Feel Bad About My Neck”. In it she wrote: ‘Our faces are lies but our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t have to if it had a neck.’

The average sedentary adult in the Western world puts on about a pound of excess weight a year. Some of that blubber is stored in puckered rolls around the neck, which provide an indication of our age and physical life style as surely as the annual growth rings of a tree. Those unsightly fat deposits can’t be removed by massage, exercise or any other form of non-surgical spot reduction. Some fitness buffs suggests that the jowls can be tightened be enunciating the vowel sounds – a,e,i,o,u – in an exaggerated manner several times a day. This may improve your singing, but won’t have any other positive effect, apart from frightening the horses and annoying your neighbours. If left in place those unsightly rolls of flab pose a serious health risk. This danger was highlighted by Dr Daniel Slaughter, a leading American otolaryngologist, who warns: “If you gain weight around your neck it squeezes the internal diameter of the throat, making it more likely to collapse during sleep, triggering snoring.” Three-quarters of these nocturnal grunters go on to develop sleep apnoea. This means they have periods during the night when their breathing stops. This deprives their brain of oxygen, and makes them prone the following day to bouts of lethargy, moodiness, memory loss and reduced mental acuity. Surveys also show that they have an increased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke, a hazard which arises when the diameter of the neck exceeds 16 inches in a woman, and 17 inches in a man.

Some people these days have more chins than a Chinese telephone directory, making them look like overfed turkeys. A good tailor or dressmaker can conceal pot bellies and flabby thighs, but they can do nothing whatsoever to hide fat-laden jowls. As a subterfuge you can take to wearing high neck collars and roll-neck sweaters. That can improve your appearance, but will do nothing to improve your health. So the moment you look in the mirror and see signs of fat accumulating around your neck take that as a siren call. It’s an unmistakeable, and highly visible warning, that you need to change your life style in a way which will enable you to shape up and slim down.


(Donald Norfolk’s books are now available at rock bottom prices in eBook format through Amazon.)

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