Entries in Health (4)


Are Equinox Ad Models ‘Too Skinny’?

David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Equinox Fitness, a national gym chain headquartered in New York, is getting hit with criticism from members and the media for ads that feature models who are “skinny” instead of “healthy and fit.”

The ad campaign is Equinox’s second set by fashion photographer Terry Richardson. In the nine photos, scantily-clad male and female models pose in luxurious settings and clothing. The models lie on a couch, ride bicycles and pose with puppies -- none of which take place in a gym.

“What do you get when you combine hot models, French bulldogs, cake and Terry Richardson? Our executive creative director spills secrets from the 2012 campaign shoot,” Equinox said on its Facebook page.

Equinox members peppered the company’s Facebook site this week with criticism, saying the models looked “anorexic.”

“Why did all of the models have a runway physique?” one member wrote. “Equinox is promoting health and fitness, so I would like to see some healthy and fit women on their ad campaigns who look like they could actually survive a typical Equinox class. Can we maybe see a little bit of muscle on the ladies next time around? The Nike ads are great examples of strong, fit women!” another member wrote.

Fashion news site Fashionista wrote, “The girls are undoubtedly thin -- but they have some definition. The Equinox location in SoHo is overrun with models, and many of them I’ve seen there are a LOT thinner than these girls.”

Others saw something else in the ad campaign.

“The people who complain, have missed the point...and the message it is meant to convey,” an Equinox member wrote in defense of the ads. “The selection of models and the images show Equinox as high fashion, cool, hip and edgy.”

But another member had another idea: "If people who actually belong to the gym have 'missed the point' maybe the ads have missed the mark.”

Neither Terry Richardson nor Equinox returned requests from ABC News for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nestle Invests Billions to Decode Digestive Systems

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(VEVEY, Switzerland) -- Nestle, the world's largest food company -- responsible for making Eskimo Pies, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and Tombstone frozen pizza -- has invested billions of dollars to research metabolic disorders and improve nutrition in our diets.

Headquartered near the tranquil waters of Lake Geneva in Vevey, Switzerland, the Nestle Research Center hosts a team of top food scientists dedicated to decoding the human metabolism. The company also agreed to purchase Prometheus Laboratories Inc, a maker of treatments for cancer and gastrointestinal illnesses, Bloomberg reported last month.

Metabolomics, or the study of the chemical processes of the human metabolism, is a relatively new field of science. It has only been around for about 10 years, according to Nestle researcher Alastair Ross.

Using artificial body parts, scientists test the digestion cycles of infants, adults -- even dogs. In one experiment, they pumped strawberry yogurt through an artificial human intestine filled with acids, enzymes and pig bile. There are millions of receptors in the gut that give feedback to the brain, including the feeling of satiety or hunger.

They're also trying to decode what consumers -- too young to talk -- think about different foods.

"By examining closely the facial expression of the baby we can identify...differences between rejection and fullness, for example," said Ciaran Forde, a senior sensory specialist.

Other experiments use live adult test subjects, who are questioned about their eating habits, such as how much of this food versus that food does the subject thinks he would need to feel full. They are even analyzing urine samples in a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to unlock the secrets of human metabolism. Aside from food studies, Nestle scientists also use software that tracks a person's eye movement as he looks over a product's packaging to analyze how effectively the product is marketed.

With about 10,000 brands under its name, Nestle's global sales last year nearly reached $105 billion. In 2010, its food and beverage division spent $1.3 billion on research and development.

The company spent 10 years perfecting "extrusion freezing" to make low fat ice cream for their Bryer's Slow Churned ice cream brand. It developed an infant cereal that reduces constipation under their Nestum brand. It even invented a low carbon footprint coffee machine for the Dolce Gusto.

But aside from just improving its products, Nestle is also studying how our bodies crave fat and sugar in order to develop healthier products and help ease the American obesity epidemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans is considered obese.

The challenge is not only to crack the code on how to make healthy food more desirable but also how to trick our bodies into making us feel full faster and longer so we eat less.

After running tests with the artificial stomach, Nestle scientists discovered that olive oil treated with monoglyceride -- a lipid often found in chewing gum, whipped cream, and other bakery products -- will take eight times longer to digest than regular olive oil.

"We think that if it is slower it also will mean that people will feel full for a longer time and then they'll maybe eat less and snack less," explained Heribert Watzke.

Scientists are also developing personalized diets, tailored down to suit an individual's own digestive system.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Insurers Using Consumer Data for Risk Assessment

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Insurance companies are turning to consumer habits to assess the health of their customers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, insurers are using consumer-marketing data to estimate a person’s risk for illness. Information from online and offline purchases, along with data from public records such as hunting permits and property transfers are all being used to conduct the risk assessment.

One company, Aviva, examined data from 60,000 of its recent insurance applicants, and found that a “predictive modeling” system proved to be convincing in its ability to arrive at similar results that traditional techniques would. That test was conducted by Deloitte Consulting, and estimated the risk for illnesses such as high blood pressure and depression. 

Other companies considering pursuing a similar route for assessment include AIG and Prudential.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Obesity Costs Employers Billions

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DURHAM, N.C.) -- Obese Americans have increased the cost of health care, according to recent studies, but the doctor's office isn't the only place where obesity ups expenses: The workplace is another. Research released Friday by Duke University found the cost to employers of obesity among full-time employees was $73.1 billion a year.

Using survey data from the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the 2008 U.S. National Health and Wellness Survey, the Duke researchers estimated the extent to which obesity-related health problems affected absenteeism, work productivity and medical costs.

While previous estimates looked mainly at the direct health care costs of obesity, lead researcher Eric Finkelstein, deputy director for health services and systems research at Duke-National University of Singapore, and his colleagues found that "presenteeism," or the lost productivity incurred when employees try to work despite health problems, cost employers a whopping $12.1 billion per year, nearly twice as much as their medical costs.

Presenteeism was also the biggest cost among employees of healthy weight, but researchers found that obese workers accounted for a disproportionately larger share of overall presenteeism, absenteeism and medical expenses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the yearly medical costs of obesity are estimated at $147 billion, a figure that has ballooned of late, growing by more than 80 percent over a five-year period, recent studies found.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio