Column Date 2009-07-29

A surefire plan for losing weight

You've tried the diets. You've sweated at the health clubs. You've gone to weight-loss support groups. And you haven't lost an ounce.

You're not alone.

Nobody seems to be losing any weight in America these days. In fact, a new study shows that obesity now costs our medical system over $147 billion each year – nearly 10% of all medical spending in the U.S.A.

The Tannen Weekly has come up with a new idea to help America lose weight:


That's right, jump. Jumping uses lots of energy, gets the heart rate up, the blood flowing, and those muscles working. It also burns calories – lots of them.

It would look silly, of course, for people to start jumping up and down in the office, or on the street, or while waiting for a bus.

But there's seems to be one place in America where jumping up and down is OK -- even encouraged -- TV quiz shows.

Take "The Price Is Right," for example. When a contestant is picked from the audience, he or she runs down the aisle performing the mandatory "Selected Contestant's Jump" – rapidly jumping up and down while hysterically clapping and screaming. You can almost see the pounds melting off.

The host, Drew Carey, by the way, is the only person on camera who never jumps. And it shows.

Then there's "Deal or No Deal."

World-class jumpers abound on this show, and many of them jump up and down frantically every time they guess correctly and get closer to winning a million dollars.

This "Multiple Reward Jumping" reminds me of B. F. Skinner,* who changed the habits of rats by giving them electrical shocks. But no matter – it's still terrific exercise.

Obviously, we can't have millions of obese folks jumping up and down on quiz shows. Too many people, not enough quiz shows.

But the internet can help: why not use Skype video or iChat to watch potential quiz show contestants jumping up and down in their own homes? The best jumpers get to go on the show.

Make the prizes big enough, and I guarantee you'll see millions of people jumping up and down at 11 AM every morning. Money is the ultimate motivator.

It may wreak all hell with floors and building support beams, but when "The Joint is Jumpin'," as the jazz lyric says, we'll be on the road to a healthier country.



*FYI: Besides shocking rats, Skinner, an experimental psychologist at Harvard, also invented a primitive guidance system for a missile designed to hit German battleships during WWII. The nose cone of the missile was divided into three compartments, each containing a pigeon and a video screen. The pigeons were trained to peck at the object on the screen, thereby guiding the missile toward the battleship. The system never got off the ground, so to speak. When push came to shove, it seems the Navy just didn't trust pigeons.



©2009 Peter Tannen