BY the time we get to the end of this column we'll all be closer to death.

It's a comforting thought, at least in the sense of getting out of Scotland. With luck, we'll all end up in a better place, though I hope I don't get to Heavenshire and find an independence struggle active there too, with the Daily Nirvana full of headlines inevitably featuring the words "warning" and "fear".

Down here, that's all you ever read. Independence. Warning. Fear. It's bound to take a toll on your health. But I don't suppose that's the reason why, once more, we bagged a top spot in the mortality rates for western Europe.

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Scotland's evident psychic infirmity is matched by her physical feebleness, the causes for which must be many and various. Climate, ignorance and Alex Salmond are doubtless to blame. Perhaps even our famous self-hatred comes into it: "I know this pie could kill me. That's why I'm going to eat it."

Yet there is hope. We could starve. It goes without saying that this would be an inevitable by-product of independence anyway. But the First Minister should make the most of it. He should talk it up.

How so? Because it's the way to health. It's all over the papers of Middle Britain. Once you get past all the independence-warning-fear stuff, the story is that, by starving every other day, not only do we get slimmer but we stave off – in no particular order – Alzheimer's, wrinkles, cancer, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and having a big nose.

I'll have some of that (particularly if it works on the nose) or, rather, not have some of that, if it's evil food you're offering. The theory is attested by top experts, who put two and two together and lost weight.

The thin in their thinking is that this is how we lived in the past. Back in the pre-Strictly era, some days you got meat, some days you got nowt. And, in the days you got nowt, your body took a break and repaired itself.

It sounds logical, so there must be something wrong with it. But the people don't buy that. Instead, they're buying self-help books like Alternate-Day Diet: Turn on Your Skinny Gene, which are selling like, well, hot cakes.

I should say you don't exactly eat nowt every second day. You're allowed 600 calories: say, one bowl of thin soup and three steamed prunes. So next to nowt. But you can fill your face on the other days.

You say: "Our own First Eck is rather full in the face." Fair point. Most of the extraordinary bile he attracts is caused by conflict in the Unionist mind with their inner patriot. Their position makes them uncomfortable. It must. It's unnatural to deny your own country. It causes inner torment, which explodes in paroxysms of hate.

However, part of their animus is also occasioned by the First Minister's wobbling jowls. Leading Unionist intellectuals online often draw attention to the Eckish One's weight.

I too have done so – it's a democratic duty to laugh at those in authority – and have also noted his flyaway eyebrows, which I find more fascinating than lamentable.

These important factors will not influence how I vote in the referendum. But if you add the jowls to the Olympics and the Queen's Jubilee, you have a pretty compelling case for the Union. It may do the independence cause some good, therefore, if Mr Salmond were to refrain from eating every second day. His advisers could help here, perhaps gagging him and tying him to a chair.

Where Mr Salmond goes, his people should follow. To the chairs! The SNP should announce that, under independence, there will be no food every second day. It's bound to prove popular: no more the sick man but the hungry man of Europe.

The First Minister is fond of slogans predicting a patriotic future. Let his new one be: lean and mean by 2014.

In the meantime, I warned that you'd be a little closer to death now. Either that or independence: oh, feel the fear (and do it anyway).