Entries in Review (5)


Review: FitBit Aria Scale Offers High-Tech Motivation 

Courtesy FitBit(NEW YORK) -- If you're that person who needs a reminder to eat healthier and spend more time at the gym, scales can be intrinsically motivating. But a new, high-tech scale from FitBit might be the most motivational scale ever made. The $130 Aria takes the once-simple function of a scale -- to read you your weight -- and steps it up with a number of different technology-based features.

It's not only Wi-Fi-enabled so it can upload your weight to the Internet and your FitBit account, but it can also tell you your Body Mass Index (BMI) and fat/lean percentage. You can then view charts about your progress online.

Before you can get to that, you have to set up the Aria -- but it's actually a fairly simple process. Take the scale out of the box, pull the paper out of the battery compartment, and download the FitBit software to your computer. The software will then pair the scale to the same network that your computer is connected to -- even if the network is password protected. Within five minutes my Aria was connected to my home network and was ready to be stepped on.

As a scale, the Aria is quite attractive and comfortable to stand on. The flat glass plate is smooth and comfortable on the feet -- though sometimes a tad cold. And the availability of both black and white versions is bound to make interior decorators happy. A circular LCD screen displays your weight and other indicators -- battery life, wireless signal, etc. -- surround it. The screen is backlit so you can make out those three digit-numbers in the dark.

The scale takes four AA batteries and is said to last for a minimum of three months. You can also view the battery life through the online portal.

The screen displays your weight, and the number is instantly sent over the Wi-Fi in the scale to the online cloud and to your FitBit account. No matter where you are you can check your last weigh-in and see a record of all your other weigh-ins.

When you log in to your FitBit account (which is free) you can see your weight plotted on a line graph. You can also see your lean vs. fat breakdowns and your BMI. You can customize the dates you'd like to see on the graph as well. Hover over the plotted dot and you'll see the exact weight and the date. FitBit says you will also be able to view this information in its iPhone and Android apps later this summer.

The idea of putting your weight online could be a bit unsettling at first, but FitBit assures that it has very strict privacy settings. You don't have to share any of the information uploaded to your account, though if you want to you can share it with others within your FitBit network. If you happen to use the FitBit tracker, a $99 gadget that snaps to pants or clothes to track steps taken and calories burned, you can get an even better view of your activity and how it affects your weight. There is currently no view in the FitBit online dashboard, though, where you can see how many calories you burned on a day and how much you weighed.

The scale can accommodate up to eight accounts and it will only send the weight to yours -- so you shouldn't worry, the maker says, if you're squeamish about sharing your weight with members of your family. It will know the difference between people based on weight, but if two people weigh within a few pounds of each other the scale will prompt you to select your account on the LCD.

Overall, the Aria is easy to set up and provides a nice view of your weight data. $130 might seem like a lot for a scale, especially when most basic digital scales cost $30, but the online data and self-tracking capabilities tell you a lot more than what you weigh. And that means more motivation, even for those who won't ever like stepping on a scale.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Zumba Fitness Rush for XBox Kinect Will Teach You How to Zumba


Microsoft(NEW YORK) -- On Feb 13, Zumba fitness dancing returns to XBox Kinect with Zumba Fitness Rush, bringing with it the craze that launched classes, clothing lines and, yes, even conventions all over the world. Will the new game live up to an in-studio Zumba workout?

While the Wii incarnation of the game works by strapping a Wiimote to the hip, which does little to score players correctly for things like arm movement, the game's transition to Kinect has done a fine job of providing motion-tracking that scores accurately based on a full body range of movement and timing.

While some of the moves can seem repetitive compared to other dance games, the game does focus less on quickly throwing complicated dance steps one's way and more on moving to the rhythm of the music. Don't expect to interpret the lyrics with your body or do the robot; instead, you'll get an aerobic workout with flares of salsa and reggaeton. Because Zumba Fitness Rush's dance moves are sustained for longer than in other games, indicators for upcoming moves are not constantly in one's face. They pop up sparingly, and the game is more aesthetically pleasing for it.

The songs and moves were lifted directly out of a Zumba class and the soundtrack includes all of the staples from the Wii version of the game, with plenty of additional tracks. Each song has only one level of difficulty, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. In Zumba Fitness Rush, the tempo and length of the music inform the difficulty of the workout, meaning the slower-paced "easy" songs are not shoehorned into difficult mode by adding complicated moves that don't fit the rhythm.

Zumba Fitness Rush could be the ideal game for those looking to learn how to dance, Zumba style. There's a tutorial mode to teach you the ropes with step-by-step instructions. Kinect does a far better job scoring, based on full-body movement, than Wii does, so you're more likely to pull off your moves correctly. Essentially, the game will train you into a Zumba dancing machine.

The game also provides an unexpected amount of detail. The stages are populated by real-world Zumba instructors, and the locations are places where actual dance classes have been held. Zumba Fitness Rush is like a sports title in this respect, trading stadiums and famous pro athletes for real life venues and celebrity trainers.

Perhaps most intriguing is the number of workout "classes" the new game was offering, increasing the total from 30 on Wii to 45 on Kinect. A one-disc game offers an impressive number of classes at 20-minute, half-hour and hour-long increments, providing programs of varying difficulties that can be continuously danced through without having to navigate menus.

Calorie counters track your progress. But for most of the game's modes, don't expect the game to record burned calories if you have to bail halfway through a class.

Anyone remotely familiar with the Zumba fitness dancing craze or the XBox Kinect motion sensor can recognize the potential of a game that does it right, and Zumba Fitness Rush delivers.

The Zumba curious or current Zumba fans will eat it up. And guys, there might be no better way to Kinect with your Valentine this year. So don't overlook the game when out choosing between restaurant reservations and that trip to the drugstore for chocolates.

Zumba Fitness Rush is available in stores on Feb. 13 for the XBox Kinect.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FDA Reviewing Antibacterial Chemical Triclosan

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical found in hundreds of soaps and cleaners, may be getting a dirty reputation.

The chemical has been under review since April 2010, and now the Food and Drug Administration announced that it will extend its assessment of triclosan after several animal studies have shown that the antiseptic may disrupt hormone levels and even cause antibiotic resistance.

The FDA has stated there is not enough evidence to discourage consumers to stay away from products containing triclosan, but the federal organization also noted there is no evidence that the antibacterial provides any more benefit to washing in a household setting than regular soap and water.

Triclosan was originally intended as a hospital surgical scrub to prevent transmission of disease in patients. Today, the chemical is found in thousands of household products.

"It is a valuable product when used in hospitals to inhibit growth of organisms and has been shown to prevent infection in hospitals," said Dr. Stuart Levy, professor of microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, who has conducted studies on triclosan's safety in household products.  "But the use of the chemical in household products is not the place it should be used."

In 2001, Levy and other Tufts scientists conducted research that found 75 percent of study participants ages 5 and older had traces of the substance in their urine.

"[Antibacterial products] are now being added to products used in healthy households, even though an added health benefit has not been demonstrated," study authors wrote.  "Scientists are concerned that the antibacterial agents will select bacteria resistant to them and cross-resistant to antibiotics."

But the American Cleaning Institute rejects the dangers, and adds that triclosans benefits all who use the products.

"These products play a beneficial role in the daily hygiene routines of millions of people throughout the U.S. and worldwide," a spokesperson for the American Cleaning Institute wrote in a statement.  "They have been and are used safely and effectively in homes, hospitals and workplaces every single day."

"Bottom line, where is the benefit?" Levy asked rhetorically.  "It has much more harm than benefit."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA to Improve Premarket Review of Medical Devices

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans Wednesday to improve the most common path to market for medical devices. The agency revealed its plan consisting of 25 actions to implement during 2011.

Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), hopes these new actions will result in "a smarter medical device program that supports innovation, keeps jobs here at home and brings important, safe and effective technologies to patients quickly."

Key measures of the plan include establishing a new Center Science Council of senior FDA experts who will ensure timely and consistent decision making based on science, new guidance that will increase the efficiency of the premarket review process, and a recommendation of a suitable time for submission of clinical data for premarket review.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA to Review Another Weight-Loss Pill

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The FDA on Tuesday will bring together outside experts to review another weight-loss pill -- the third this year.
Contrave is a blend of naltrexone, a drug used to help junkies and alcoholics kick the habit, and bupropion, an anti-depressant that’s also used for smoking cessation and seasonal affective disorder.
Contrave’s prospects seem no better than the last two weight-loss pills, which both were shot down by the FDA this fall.
An FDA staff review released Friday finds Contrave fell short of the agency’s weight-loss targets. And the reviewers want a study to focus specifically on the drug’s effects on the heart.
Anti-depressants can cause suicidal thoughts, but no one in the last Contrave study “completed or attempted suicide.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio