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Presentation Software Linked to Obesity Epidemic

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by I.M. Knott-Tawkin
Freelance Writer

"Since I started using chalk for my public speaking class presentations I've been able to wear outfits that show off my abs," said one study participant.

A research study recently released by the Eat Less Institute (ELI) correlates student and faculty expanding waistlines with the ease of presentation software.

“It’s not only brains that are going soft,” chief investigator Slim Hawkins said. “Pudgy presenters are no longer going through the effort they used to. It’s too simple to design slides. The normal effort of coloring in graphs or lettering by hand is leading to a caloric shift right where you see it most.”

What was once called the “freshman 15” has turned into the “freshman 50” on some campuses. Distance learning is thought to exacerbate the problem further, as both faculty and students go from bed to computer and back to bed again. However, the link with presentation software has never been explicitly shown before this landmark study.

Hawkins and his ELI co-investigators had two sets drawn from a random pool at a midwestern college, and each set mixed students and faculty. One group, pegged “A” for appetite (not that the study was rigged) was assigned to a computer lab to design a presentation on (the topic was drawn from a hat) using presentation software.

The other set, “B” (for belly-busters), also drew a topic from a hat; however, they were assigned to a room with markers, poster board, magazines, scissors, paste and other traditional presentation supplies. A calorimeter measured output of each group. Galvanic skin response was tested. A weigh-in before and after the groups completed the project showed significant differences between the two groups.

“I knew I was sweating bullets but I was surprised with the results,” said participating sophomore Lena Horrun of set B. “I felt much more comfortable in my size 0 jeans after the activity.”

“My husband thought it was middle-aged spread, but I knew it was the ease of preparing for class all along,” said faculty member C. B. Checkquer. “I’ll be pulling the plug on canned presentations. Bring on the markers.”

(The ELI research team would have inserted a graph here, but as of press time it was still being shaded in by hand.)

In addition, Hawkins hypothesizes that hiding behind an electronic podium instead of walking around the class while speaking may further exacerbate the problem of runaway obesity.

“In short, my advice based on the study is be more active,” said Hawkins. “No one is paying attention to your 36-page slide show anyway, with a maximum of 10 words per slide. Turn those words into hand-lettered signs, and you may drop a ring size before you know it.”

“When my students hear me speak, I’d rather they say: ‘What a waist’ rather than ‘what a waste,’” added Checkquer.

And being more active, even hyperactive, is just what Horrun intends to do. As she explained, “Who knows? I may be able to fit in a size minus four (-4) pair of jeans by my senior year.”