TIME celebrity

The Problem With Celebrities Who Tell You How to Live Well

Blake Lively arrives for the screening of the film "Captives" at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 16, 201.
Blake Lively arrives for the screening of the film "Captives" at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 16, 201. Valery Hache—AFP/Getty Images

Health is the new wealth: Just ask Blake, Gwyneth, Jessica and Ellen

Somewhere in Greenwich Village, it’s reported that Leonardo Di Caprio’s apartment lighting is synching up with his circadian rhythms. At least that’s one of the features his health-centric building advertises. On a recent visit to the Delos Living loft-style apartments in New York City, which are designed with posture-supportive flooring and ultraviolet lights to sterilize airborne microbes, I got a sneak peak into the lifestyles of the rich and health conscious. As the elevator doors opened, Deepak Chopra, prominent alternative medicine practitioner, stepped out in a t-shirt. He too, lives in the building currently offering a penthouse for $50 million.

(MORE: 5 Celebrities Who Want to Tell You How to Live)

If you’re willing to pay the price, you can not only afford a luxury apartment with cleaner air, but a yoga teacher who makes house calls, a fitness concierge who makes sure you get to workouts on time, healthy meals delivered to your doorstep. Is the good life still getting you down? If you can foot a $1818 bill, you can escape to Sri Lanka for a two-week wellness vacation.

Gone are the days of flaunting lavish apartments and cars for the MTV “Cribs” camera crews, instead, we see Instagram posts of up to $235 rejuvenating skin care products and celebrity trainers. Exit opulent mansions, enter evidence of impeccable physical health.

Wellness is the new wealth. And we all want some of that glow. Steady growth of 7.2% per year for the health and wellness market is expected to continue, with global sales hitting a record high of $1 trillion by 2017. Wellness tourism—travel that promotes health through physical and spiritual activities from meditation retreats to weight loss spas–is a $439 billion industry worldwide.

And who better to pander to our desires for the latest and greatest in self improvement than today’s batch of celebrities who no longer simply sell us a new vodka, perfume, or eye shadow, but instead offer how-to guides using their own lives displayed via perfectly curated lifestyle blogs.

The queen of selling us the good life is of course, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, whose personal blog, Goop, provides recipes for her white pear kimchi, or the chai gingerbread shake in her winter cleanse. She’s even pushing the trendy new way to end a marriage.

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres recently announced that she will be launching, E.D., her new lifestyle brand in late October/early November. Though she remained tight lipped about the details to WWD, she will reportedly offer everything from home décor to fashion. Jessica Alba even has her own brand of organic baby products. And this week, actress Blake Lively joined the crowd with the launch of her lifestyle brand, Preserve. The site, which highlights trends in food, style and wellness, sells everything from curry ketchup to earrings. In her editor’s letter Lively writes: “I’m no editor, no artisan, no expert. And certainly no arbiter of what you should buy, wear. Eat.” And yet…

This new wave of celebrities are no longer just actresses and performers, they’re brands, and they’re selling us a blueprint for the most intimate aspects of life. Martha Stewart built her empire by showing women how to create cute crafts and put together the perfect 4th of July spread, but she never provided a detailed outline of her own day-to-day activities, like what products she uses and her latest workout. Oprah got a lot closer, with her former TV show and O magazine, flagging inspiring stories and offering recommendations on what women should read how to get their to do lists done.

And in 2014, it’s clear that wellness is becoming something worth lusting over as much as the perfect table setting, and in many cases, it’s a luxury item. Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder has sold about 1.6 million copies promoting the idea that true success means paying heed to well being, taking meditation breaks at work and getting more sleep.

Hotels like the W and Westin are catering to the growing interest among guests to be healthy. Westin hotel rooms are part hotel room, part mini-gym with a treadmill or stationary bike, dumbbells, fitness DVDs, resistance bands and stability balls built into individual rooms. In May, the W launched a fitness program with in-room exercise videos. Renowned hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, even has a clinic that specifically treats big-name business executives (Oprah is a patient).

But how easy is it to adopt the lifestyles of the rich and extremely well? Just ask Rachel Bertsche, author of the new book, “Jennifer, Gwyneth, & Me.” She spent eight months trying to imitate the lives of celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow following their eating, exercise and marriage philosophies for a month each. “There is absolutely a rush when you’re feeling like you’re living that glamorous lifestyle,” she says. “I think Gwyneth Paltrow has made a business of saying ‘here is my fabulous life’ and suggesting things that are attainable. But stars are not just like us, and we are not just like them.” By the end of Bertsche’s chapter on Gwyneth she sounds like she’s close to tears and starvation.

Meanwhile, one third of the general populace is still obese, and the majority of us are not getting adequate exercise nor do enough of us have regular access to fresh food, raw, macrobiotic or otherwise. Americans work long hours—among the longest in the industrailized world—and we’re stressed out. Forty-three percent of U,S. adults report stress has kept them awake at night. But often times it’s easier to simply click through Gwyneth’s recipes for appetizers like beet-cured gravlax than take that time and money to make ourselves better based on her recommendations. It’s sort of like window shopping high-luxury stores. The reality is that look and admire is all many of us can do.

Making health and wellness a luxury that only a select few can afford isn’t helpful, especially since there are so many simple ways to achieve better health by opting for healthier food (even in the frozen aisle) and being more physically active (even just a walk can help). If a juice cleanse is really part of a simple healthy lifestyle (which I will argue until I am blue in the face that it’s not) then why does a one-day package cost $65? Making health “trendy” has its benefits, surely we’ve seen enough of celebrities touting late night boozing and drug use. But when a market emerges that transforms wellness into something only attainable for the 1%, health disparities become ever more visible, and we lose sight of what it means to really be “well.”

 

TIME poverty

Here Are the 5 Worst States for a Child’s Well-Being

Children try to do their homework at an evacuation shelter in a high school gymnasium in Kentwood, Louisiana on August 30, 2012.
Children try to do their homework at an evacuation shelter in a high school gymnasium in Kentwood, Louisiana on August 30, 2012. Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images

Child poverty rates are rising, but some states are better than others when it comes to kids' overall well-being

A new annual report on kids’ well-being finds that child poverty rates are rising across the country, with nearly a quarter of American children living in families below the poverty line.

The KIDS COUNT Data Book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that poverty rates had dropped from 1990 to 2000, but began increasing again in the early 2000s. Data shows their health and education are improving, with teen birthrates and death rates at all-time lows and more children showing proficiency in reading and math.

But with families still recovering from the recession and fewer resources available from government programs like Medicaid—as well as higher housing and transportation costs—the report finds that kids are growing up in poor households that are having trouble escaping poverty.

Northern states tend to rank better than ones in the South for kids in terms of economic status, education, health and family and community, which the authors of the study attribute to smart investments in children’s health and educational programs. Here are the five states that rank the highest and lowest for kids’ overall well-being:

Lowest

50. Mississippi

49. New Mexico

48. Nevada

47. Louisiana

46. Arizona

Highest

1. Massachusetts

2. Vermont

3. Iowa

4. New Hampshire

5. Minnesota

TIME Health Care

Johns Hopkins to Pay $190 Million to Victims of Secretly Recorded Exams

A sign stands in front of part of the Johns Hopkins Hospital complex on July 8, 2014, in Baltimore.
A sign stands in front of part of the Johns Hopkins Hospital complex on July 8, 2014, in Baltimore. Patrick Semansky—AP

A male gynecologist secretly filmed and took pictures during exams with female patients

Johns Hopkins Hospital announced on Monday that it reached a $190 million settlement with patients whose exams were secretly recorded by a gynecologist.

The class-action lawsuit involved more than 8,000 former patients of Dr. Nikita Levy, the Associated Press reports, and the deal marks one of the largest involving sexual misconduct by a doctor. Most of the discovered videos and photographs—about 1,200 videos and 140 photos—did not include the women’s faces and were taken with a pen-like camera he wore around his neck.

The case never led to criminal charges but essentially argued that Johns Hopkins should have been aware of what the doctor was doing. Levy committed suicide 10 days after he was fired in February 2013, which occurred after an employee came forward with suspicions.

Johns Hopkins released a statement in October on the discovery of Levy’s “misconduct and breach of trust,” writing: “We have redoubled our efforts to ensure that all of us in the Johns Hopkins community understand our responsibility, and we want to encourage you to speak up if you have any concerns about patient care or privacy.”

In a statement sent to reporters, Jonathan Schochor, the lawsuit’s lead attorney, said: “When learning of Dr. Levy’s behavior, our clients were extremely distraught. They felt a great breach of faith and trust. They felt betrayed. Now, with this proposed settlement, we can begin the process of healing our community.”

The settlement still needs final approval by a judge, the AP reports.

“We assure you that one individual does not define Johns Hopkins,” the hospital system said on Monday, acknowledging the settlement. “Johns Hopkins is defined by the tens of thousands of employees who come to work determined to provide world-class care for our patients and their families.”

TIME Infectious Disease

HIV Diagnosis Rate Fell by a Third in U.S. Over a Decade

HIV DIAGNOSES
This graphic shows the annual number of HIV diagnoses in the U.S., which has dropped by one-third in the past decade F.duckett—AP

A government study finds that HIV infection rates in the U.S. fell by one-third in the past decade, but young gay and bisexual men remain at high risk for the infection

(NEW YORK) — The rate of HIV infections diagnosed in the United States each year fell by one-third over the past decade, a government study finds. Experts celebrated it as hopeful news that the AIDS epidemic may be slowing in the U.S.

“It’s encouraging,” said Patrick Sullivan, an Emory University AIDS researcher who was not involved in the study.

The reasons for the drop aren’t clear. It might mean fewer new infections are occurring. Or that most infected people already have been diagnosed so more testing won’t necessarily find many more cases.

“It could be we are approaching something of a ‘ceiling effect,’” said one study leader, David Holtgrave of Johns Hopkins University.

The study was released online Saturday by the Journal of the American Medical Association. It is part of the journal’s special report on HIV research, issued ahead of the International AIDS Conference that starts Sunday in Melbourne, Australia.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, which destroys the immune system. The World Health Organization estimates 35 million people globally have the virus. In the United States, 1.1 million people are thought to be infected, though many don’t know it.

The study is based on HIV diagnoses from all 50 states’ health departments, which get test results from doctors’ office, clinics, hospitals and laboratories. The data span a decade, making this a larger and longer look at these trends than any previous study, said another study author, Amy Lansky of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings: 16 out of every 100,000 people ages 13 and older were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2011, a steady decline from 24 out of 100,000 people in 2002.

Declines were seen in the rates for men, women, whites, blacks, Hispanics, heterosexuals, injection drug users and most age groups. The only group in which diagnoses increased was young gay and bisexual men, the study found.

The diagnosis rate is a direct measure of when people actually tested positive for the virus. The diagnoses may be identifying infections that happened recently or years before.

The study found diagnosis rates dropped even as the amount of testing rose. In 2006, the CDC recommended routine HIV testing for all Americans ages 13 to 64, saying an HIV test should be as common as a cholesterol check. The percentage of adults ever tested for HIV increased from 37 percent in 2000 to 45 percent in 2010, according to CDC data.

Lansky acknowledged that given the testing increases, the new findings may seem like a bit of a paradox. One might assume that “if more people get tested, you’re more likely to find more people who are infected,” she said.

But several factors could explain the decline.

One is Holgrave’s ‘ceiling effect’ theory. Another is a possible ebb in new infections.

The CDC has been estimating about 50,000 new infections occur each year and that number has been holding steady in the past decade. That estimate comes from reports from 25 city and state health departments, joined with statistical modeling.

Lansky said maybe new infections are waning. Or maybe not, she and other experts said.

How could new infections be holding steady when diagnoses are falling? Perhaps the infection count might be buoyed by the expanding epidemic in young gay and bisexual men, said Sullivan, the Emory researcher.

TIME Australia

After MH17 Ukraine Crash, Global AIDS Researchers Mourn Lost Colleagues

The cause of HIV/AIDS research will be set back because of experts lost in the Malaysia Airlines Ukraine disaster

+ READ ARTICLE

[UPDATE: 7/18/14, 11:52 AM EDT]

There was a pall over the 20th annual International AIDS Conference in Melbourne even before the crash of Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, which killed an estimated 100 delegates who were en route to the meeting. [Update: Later reports suggest that the number of delegates lost is much lower.]

In the past couple of years the vibrant showcase event—part serious science, part activist networking and carnivalhas been headily optimistic, as HIV treatments improved and the possibility of a cure no longer seemed so far off. “The mood is always an important part,” says Professor Mike Toole, an international communicable diseases veteran with Melbourne’s Burnet Institute who has been at the HIV/AIDS front line since the pandemic began some 30 years ago.

Toole remembers that the landmark Durban International AIDS Conference back in 2000 demonstrated to this eclectic crowd—a disparate crew of laboratory researchers, front-line health workers, activists and people living with the infection—their powerful potential. It was in Durban that the commitment to deliver then-prohibitively expensive antiretroviral drugs to the world’s poorest populations ignited, and was carried through over the next few years by organizations like The Global Fund and the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for Aids Relief.

The past two International Aids Society (IAS) meetings, in Vienna and Washington DC, have been buoyed by signals that a breakthrough was close, and the expectation was that the momentum would continue into Melbourne. Then, barely a week ago, came a serious blow. For over a year many members of the HIV/AIDS community had been pinning their hopes for a breakthrough on the so-called Mississippi baby, an HIV-positive infant that had apparently been cured through aggressive drug treatment soon after birth. But on July 10, news came, that the child was showing symptoms that the virus had returned.

Although there are other programs that indicate that it might be possible to eliminate HIV infection from a human body, the apparent relapse of the Mississippi baby “depressed people incredibly,” says Toole.

Then came yesterday’s tragedy. For Toole and others HIV/AIDS experts the crash summoned up ghosts. “It reminds me of the Swissair flight, New York to Geneva, when Jonathan Mann died,” he says. Mann then the founding director of the World Health Organization’s global AIDS program was killed with several other researchers, including his wife Mary-Lou Clements-Mann, en route to AIDS meetings when the plane crashed in Canada, September 3, 1998. “I lost five friends on that flight.”

In Sydney, at a pre-conference gathering on July 18, about 200 delegates spent the day closely monitoring Twitter and exchanging snippets of news, desperate for updates on who would and would not be joining them in Melbourne. The word there was that a substantial number of the 100-plus delegates reported to be on the downed aircraft were part of the global network of activists and people living with AIDS.

With only a handful of names of the deceased confirmed by Friday, it’s difficult to measure the overall impact on HIV/AIDS research and advocacy. But the loss of internationally renowned Dutch researcher Joep Lange—a former president of the IAS—would be a massive blow. “It will have a big psychological effect,” says Toole. “He was one of the leaders in the field.”

Another known casualty was Glenn Thomas, a British media officer working for WHO in Geneva. Thomas was to be part of a media launch on July 20 revealing new tools to reduce harm to users of intravenous drugs. He was also recognized as a particularly effective communicator on the links between HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, says Toole. (The risk of developing TB is up to 20 times greater in people infected with HIV, and in 2012, of the 8.6 million new cases of TB diagnosed internationally, 1.1 million were among people with HIV.)“And the other hundred [on board]—we don’t know who they are, what it means.”

The annual AIS conferences are like no other medical gathering, says Professor Rob Moodie of the University of Melbourne, a former senior WHO official and longtime Australian public health specialist. “You have this incredible mixture of scientists and clinicians, public health people, civilian organizers, human rights activists, people who have the virus … who all have some sort of sense of ownership and collective leadership.”

The energy and collaborations of these gatherings have helped drive the huge advances achieved in understanding and responses to HIV/AIDS in a relatively short time. “We learned more about HIV in the first 10 years than we did in a century with other diseases,” says Moodie. The involvement of grassroots activist groups—as well as lab researchers—has been key to that success. MH17’s toll would not only be measured in the loss of medical expertise, but of advocacy, understanding and hard-won personal experience.

“There is a black cloud on this conference,” says Toole. “I don’t think there is anything that can retrieve that.”

Still, Toole was confident that delegates would be driven to achieve as much as they could in memory of their colleagues. He welcomed the move by the City of Melbourne on July 18 to cancel fireworks that had been scheduled to kick off the conference, but was disappointed that that’s night fixture in the Australian Football League competition—to which AIDS2014 delegates had been given tickets as part of the cultural program—did not pause for a minute of silence.

MONEY Health Care

Why Does an MRI Cost So Darn Much?

Blood vessel with human brain MRI
This is a very expensive picture to take. Yuji Sakai—Getty Images

A single scan runs $2,600 on average (before your insurance kicks in). Here's what makes this common diagnostic procedure so expensive.

When it comes to pricey hospital procedures, MRIs come to mind. Sure enough, according to recently released Medicare pricing data analyzed by NerdWallet Health, the average cost of an MRI in the U.S. is $2,611. Here’s what’s behind that number.

Make Room for a Big Machine

Magnetic resonance imaging machines use magnets and radio waves to produce black-and-white images of bones and organs, usually to help with a diagnosis. Only five companies make MRI machines, and each specializes in a few magnet strengths, so there is relatively little competition when it comes time for a hospital or medical center to buy one.

Machines come in a variety of sizes and powers. Their imaging power is measured in magnetic field strength units called Teslas; low-field or open MRI machines measure 0.2 to 0.3, while the strongest currently on the market are 3 Teslas. Used low-field MRI machines can be as cheap as $150,000 or as expensive as $1.2 million. For a state-of-the-art 3 Tesla MRI machine, the price tag to buy one new can reach $3 million.

The room that houses the machine, called an MRI suite, can cost hundreds of thousands more. Safety features must be built in to protect those right outside from the magnetic field. Add in patient support areas and installation costs, and a suite with just one machine can cost anywhere from $3 million to $5 million. Recouping these costs factors into your bill, but that alone does not tell the entire story.

Add in the Doctors and Hospitals

Charges for a single MRI scan vary widely across the country for reasons beyond startup costs. According to the recently released Medicare data, MRIs charges are as little as $474 or as high as $13,259, depending on where you go. (Another recent study of medical claims by Change Healthcare found that in-network prices for certain MRIs can run from $511 to $2,815.) That’s because hospitals and medical centers can charge whatever they want, and in most cases they don’t have to justify prices or even disclose them ahead of time.

Doctors can also charge whatever they want, and though the MRI facility probably sets the rates of their staff doctors, you’ll be charged separately for a radiologist to read the MRI. Additionally, your ordering physician may ask for the MRI to be done with or without contrast dye, or both. This “dye” is actually a paramagnetic liquid that responds to the machine’s magnet and helps enhance certain abnormalities on the scan that would not have otherwise been visible, common in neurological MRIs.

This means that in addition to cost of the scan, your total bill for the MRI will include the radiologist fee, the contrast dyes, and the cost of the procedure itself. Depending on the medical center, these charges may be bundled together into one charge. Bundling is one type of common error on medical bills, so always check over an itemized statement before paying for any costly medical procedure.

Read more from NerdWallet Health, a website that empowers consumers to find high quality, affordable health care, and insurance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIME health

The 10 Healthiest Places to Live in America

From Honolulu to Plano, Texas, here's where to move for fitness, nutrition and aging well

In a new TIME book, Healthiest Places to Live, we name the best cities for your well-being. The book is now available on newsstands everywhere.

TIME

You Asked: Are All Calories Created Equal?

Are all calories equal?
Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

Kale or corn dogs, bananas or beer, a calorie is still a calorie. At least, that’s what dieters have been told for the past half-century. Now, experts don't agree

“By and large, we’ve been taking an accounting approach to weight loss,” says Dr. David Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. By that he means, health scientists have traditionally focused on the number of calories coming in versus the number of calories going out. But there are a lot of problems with that approach, he says. For one thing, it’s really tough to accurately keep track of your daily calorie intake. “Being off by just 100 calories a day could add up to a hundred pounds over a lifetime,” he says.

If burning more calories than you consume would keep you skinny, a low-fat diet should be the answer to all your diet prayers. That’s because, compared to protein or carbohydrates, fat contains roughly twice the number of calories, ounce for ounce. But Ludwig says low-fat diets have proved ineffective when it comes to losing weight. “Mediterranean or low-carbohydrate diets outperform a low-fat diet every time, and that wouldn’t be true if calories were the only measure that mattered,” he adds. (Mediterranean diets and others like the now-trendy Paleo diet are both high in fat, comparatively speaking.)

In reality, Ludwig says the body responds differently to calories from different sources. “Your weight is regulated by a complex system of genetic factors, hormonal factors, and neurological input, and not all calories affect this system the same way,” he explains.

As for fat: “Some naturally high-fat foods are among the most healthful we can eat in terms of promoting weight loss and reducing risk for diabetes and heart disease,” he explains, listing off foods like nuts, avocados, and many types of fish. “If you’re counting calories, you would want to eat these foods sparingly because they’re dense in calories. But they’re also very filing.”

Refined carbohydrates, on the other hand—like those found in white bread, cookies, crackers, and breakfast cereals—raise your blood’s level of the hormone insulin, which signals to your body that it needs to store fat cells. Also referred to as high-glycemic foods, these refined carbs pass through your digestive system quickly—which is why you can eat a whole bag of potato chips and feel hungry 15 minutes later, Ludwig says.

Dr. Richard Feinman, a professor of cell biology at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, compares insulin to a faucet handle. The more your blood’s amount of the hormone rises, the more the faucet opens and the more fat your body stores.

Feinman has looked at calories from the perspective of thermodynamics—or the laws that govern heat and energy. Like Ludwig, he says the idea that calories from different macronutrient sources would have the same effect on your body is silly. Put simply, it doesn’t make sense that “a calorie is a calorie” because your body uses the energy from different foods in a variety of ways, Feinman explains.

The big lesson here is that people need to look at food as not just a collection of calories, experts say. By cutting out refined carbs and eating more protein and healthy fats, which help you stay full without triggering the storage of fat cells, “You can work with, as opposed to against, your body’s internal weight-control systems,” he says. “That will make weight loss more natural and easy.”

The best part: You can put away the calculator. No more calories counting.

TIME health

Watch Shoppers Smash a Hot Car Window to Free Trapped Toddlers

The mother pleaded with witnesses not to call the police

A group of shoppers in a Katy, Texas, parking lot took it upon themselves to break through the window of hot Jeep on Monday to free children trapped inside.

The children’s mother had left the two young kids, a boy and a girl, locked in the car while she got a haircut, WUSA 9 reports.

“The kids were in there crying,” said Gabriel Del Valle, who shot a cell phone video of the incident. “I mean you would understand. It’s real hot.”

Witnesses said the mother pleaded with all involved not to call the police and said she had made a terrible mistake. The children reportedly appeared unhurt and authorities were not contacted.

[WUSA9]

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