TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 16

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. A simple plan pairing a low-income first-time mom with a nurse for advice through pregnancy and her child’s early years can give that family stability and even a better life.

By Nancy Cook in the Atlantic

2. Google will pilot test a build-your-own modular smartphone, operating out of a mobile phone-lab that looks like a food truck.

By Nathan Ingraham and Josh Lowensohn in the Verge

3. The belief that some scientific fields require innate genius or natural ‘brilliance’ may keep women out.

By Rachel Bernstein in Science Magazine

4. The FDA has cleared a ‘pacemaker for the stomach’ that could be a silver bullet against obesity.

By Thomas M. Burton in the Wall Street Journal

5. Offshore wind farms — if we can build them — stand to provide twice as much energy and create twice as many jobs as offshore drilling.

By Lindsay Abrams in Salon

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: January 15

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Top of the Rock

A pair of Americans on Wednesday completed what had long been considered the world’s most difficult rock climb, using only their hands and feet to conquer a 3,000-ft. vertical wall on El Capitan, the forbidding granite pedestal in Yosemite National Park

How to Get Kids to Eat More Veg

There’s a way to get school kids to eat more vegetables at lunch, and it has nothing to do with what’s on the menu. Just mess with their schedule

Eyes on Yemen After Paris Plot

Yemen’s fingerprints are all over the terrorist attack against French newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the country’s al-Qaeda branch claimed responsibility

Science Fans Are Getting Their Own Netflix

John Hendricks, the founder of the Discovery Channel, will launch a service called CuriosityStream on March 18, offering science and nature-related content on demand. The service will be available on all Internet devices as well as Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast

Ohio Man Planned to Attack U.S. Capitol, Feds Say

An Ohio man has been arrested for allegedly planning to attack the U.S. Capitol and kill government officials, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday. Christopher Cornell, 20, is said to have used an alias and expressed support for the militant group ISIS on Twitter

Inactivity Is More Harmful Than Obesity

In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released on Wednesday, researchers say at least twice as many deaths are attributable to lack of exercise than there are to obesity. The data was taken from 334,161 European men and women

White House Will Call on Congress to Pass Paid-Leave Bill

U.S. President Barack Obama will continue rolling out policy recommendations that speak to issues facing the middle class ahead of his upcoming State of the Union address on Thursday, with a call for Congress to pass legislation addressing paid leave

Michael Keaton May Play McDonald’s Mogul Ray Kroc

Fresh off his big win at the Golden Globes, Birdman star Michael Keaton is in talks to star in a movie about the man behind McDonald’s. The Founder, depicting the life of fast-food pioneer Ray Kroc, will be directed by John Lee Hancock

Your Fish May Soon Be Caught by Thai Prisoners

Dozens of labor and human-rights groups have condemned a plan by the Thai junta to use prison labor on fishing boats, which are already notorious for violence, human trafficking and slave-like conditions

NRA Suing Pennsylvania Cities on Gun Laws

Armed with a new state law that opponents denounce as a gift to the gun lobby, pro-gun groups are rapidly scaling up their attack on municipal firearms ordinances throughout Pennsylvania, with the National Rifle Association filing suit over measures in three cities

Missing Plane’s Fuselage Found

Search crews located the fuselage of missing AirAsia Flight 8501, marking a breakthrough in the search for the plane’s scattered wreckage. The flight en route from Indonesia to Singapore vanished over the Java Sea on Dec. 28 with 162 people on board

Pacquiao’s Agent Denies Mayweather Deal

Fans hoping to see the fight of the century between eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao and unbeaten Floyd Mayweather will have to keep waiting, after Pacman’s agent quelled reports that he had agreed to terms

We will hold an #AskTIME subscriber Q&A this Friday, January 16 at 1 p.m., with TIME’s Washington bureau chief, Michael Scherer. He has a story in this week’s TIME about the different kind of presidential campaign that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee would run if he decides to seek that office a second time.

His other stories can be found here.

You can submit your questions beforehand on Twitter using the #AskTIME hashtag or in the comments of this post. We depend on smart, interesting questions from readers.

You will need to be a TIME subscriber to read the Q & A. ($30 a year or 8 cents a day for the magazine and all digital content.) Once you’re signed up, you can log in to the site with a username and password.

TIME Obesity

The FDA Has Approved an Implantable Device for Obesity

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new device that uses electricity to control hunger pangs

It’s the first new device for fighting obesity in nearly a decade and on Wednesday, it was FDA approved for Americans.

Called VBLOC, the device requires implanting a small pulse generator into the abdomen, making it less invasive than bariatric surgery. VBLOC took its manufacturer, EnteroMedics, 12 years to develop. It works in the gut like a pacemaker does in the heart, sending out pulses of electricity to the vagus nerve, which normally signals the brain when the stomach is empty or full. VBLOC stimulates this nerve, sending the message that the stomach is satisfied, which shuts down the urge to eat more.

For now, doctors set the device to trigger different levels of electrical stimulation, depending on how much support the patient needs. Eventually, EnteroMedics’ consulting chief medical officer, Dr. Scott Shikora, patients may be able to adjust the frequency and timing of the pulses themselves.

VBLOC is approved for those who are obese, with a body mass index of 35 to 45, and who have at least one other obesity-related medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. Patients also have to have tried and failed at losing weight with a weight loss program.

“If you bring along a new technology that is much simpler, much lower risk and doesn’t dramatically change lifestyle like required of bariatric patients, then I suspect a pretty good number of patients out there will say ‘Sign me up, this is for me,’” says Shikora, who has been performing the more invasive operations for two decades in Boston. For now, it’s likely to be offered by reputable weight loss centers that also perform other obesity procedures in the coming year before expanding to other outlets.

The FDA based its decision on a trial conducted by EnteroMedics involving 157 patients who used the device and 76 patients who did not. The VBLOC group lost 8.5% more excess weight than the control group after a year. While the weight loss did not meet the study’s original goal of having the patients lose at least 10% of their excess weight, the agency decided that the benefits of the device in helping obese patients lose weight outweighed any potential risks, which included surgical complications, vomiting, heartburn, chest pain and problems swallowing. “Medical devices can help physicians and patients to develop comprehensive obesity treatment plans,” Dr. William Maisel, chief scientist in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health said in a statement.

The agency is asking EnteroMedics to continue studying VBLOC for five years in at least 100 patients who use the device after it reaches market. Those studies will let doctors and regulators know if stimulating the vagus nerve continuously in these patients has any adverse effects on the nerve’s other functions in communicating information from the digestive tract up to the brain.

MONEY Health Care

Why You Could Have to Foot the Full Bill for a Weight-Loss Drug

The government has approved more drugs that suppress your appetite, but not all insurers will pick up the tab for the prescription.

In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new anti-obesity drug, Saxenda, the fourth prescription drug the agency has given the green light to fight obesity since 2012. But even though two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese—and many may need help sticking to New Year’s weight-loss resolutions—there’s a good chance their insurer won’t cover Saxenda or other anti-obesity drugs.

The health benefits of using anti-obesity drugs to lose weight—improvements in blood sugar and risk factors for heart disease, among other things—may not be immediately apparent. “For things that are preventive in the long term, it makes plan sponsors think about their strategy,” says Dr. Steve Miller, the chief medical officer at Express Scripts, which manages the prescription drug benefits for thousands of companies. Companies with high turnover, for example, are less likely to cover the drugs, he says.

“Most health plans will cover things that have an immediate impact in that plan year,” Miller says.

Miller estimates that about a third of companies don’t cover anti-obesity drugs at all, a third cover all FDA-approved weight-loss drugs, and a third cover approved drugs, but with restrictions to limit their use. The Medicare prescription drug program specifically excludes coverage of anti-obesity drugs.

Part of the reluctance by Medicare and private insurers to cover weight-loss drugs stems from serious safety problems with diet drugs in the past, including the withdrawal in 1997 of fenfluramine, part of the fen-phen diet drug combination that was found to damage heart valves.

Back then, weight-loss drugs were often dismissed as cosmetic treatments. But as the link between obesity and increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other serious medical problems has become clearer, prescription drugs are seen as having a role to play in addressing the obesity epidemic. Obesity accounts for 21% of annual medical costs in the United States, or $190 billion, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Health Economics.

The new approved drugs—Belviq, Qsymia, Contrave and Saxenda—work by suppressing appetite, among other things. Saxenda is a subcutaneous injection, the other three drugs are in pill form. They’re generally safer and have fewer side effects than older drugs. In conjunction with diet and exercise, people typically lose between 5% and 10% of their body weight, research shows, modest weight loss but sufficient to meaningfully improve health.

The drugs are generally recommended for people with a body mass index of 30 or higher, the threshold for obesity. They may also be appropriate for overweight people with BMIs in the high 20s if they have heart disease, diabetes or other conditions.

In 2013, the American Medical Association officially recognized obesity as a disease.

Nevertheless, “people still assume that obesity is simply a matter of bad choices,” says Ted Kyle, advocacy adviser for the Obesity Society, a research and education organization. “At least half of the risk of obesity is inherited,” he says.

Many people who take an anti-obesity drug will remain on it for the rest of their lives. That gives insurers pause, says Miller.

The potential cost to insurers could be enormous, he says.

Susan Pisano, a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, says the variability of insurer coverage of anti-obesity drugs “relates to issues of evidence of effectiveness and evidence of safety.”

In 2012, the U.S Preventive Services Task Force, a non-partisan group of medical experts who make recommendations about preventive care, declined to recommend prescription drugs for weight loss, noting a lack of long-term safety data, among other things. But its analysis was based on the older drugs orlistat, which is sold over the counter as Alli or in prescription form as Xenical, and metformin, a diabetes drug that has not been approved for weight loss but is sometimes prescribed for that by doctors.

The task force did recommend obesity screening for all adults and children over age 6, however, and recommended patients be referred to intensive diet and behavioral modification interventions.

Under the health law, nearly all health plans must cover preventive care recommended by the task force without cost sharing by patients. Implementation of the obesity screening and counseling recommendations remains a work in progress, say experts.

Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Research Center at Boston University, says many of the patients she treats can’t afford to pay up to $200 a month out of pocket for anti-obesity drugs.

“Coverage has to happen in order for the obesity problem to be taken care of,” says Apovian. “Insurance companies need to realize it’s not a matter of willpower, it’s a disease.”

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

TIME women

I Am Taking Up Running Again — At 250 Pounds

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What is different about the attempt this time is that I can see my excuses and fears very clearly

xojane

In my dreams, I run without my feet touching the ground.

I’m not quoting a bad motivational poster, that is really how I get around in my dreams — legs churning, hoping no one will notice that I’m sort of levitating.

In reality, it takes a lot of force to shift my inertia from a body at rest to a body in motion. At 250 pounds, I require even more force to get moving than a typical runner. The “typical” runner I imagine is rock-hard and glistening, a lunch-hour runner who makes mortals wonder what breed of insanity motivates her.

I, however, probably make mortals wonder how this body manages to move at a jogging pace at all.

While the need for physical energy to become a runner may be obvious, I require a great deal of mental energy, too. Each day is a battle with my own mind’s powerful attempts to keep me stationary and hidden inside the house. The excuses begin to flow: Is it too hot today? Or maybe it’s going to rain? What if I get a headache? Maybe I will collapse in the street.

In the past, these excuses limited my route to the streets in the direct vicinity of my front yard. I comforted myself by thinking if I had a physical or medical (or emotional) emergency, I would at least be close to home.

Before now, these three fears often kept me from firing my jets:

  1. Fear of judgment: What must people think when they see someone like me bouncing down the sidewalk? Now I just answer, “What people? And who cares?” If anyone is paying attention to me and has mean energy to burn, it can hardly negate the boost I feel from jogging on a nice day with my happy baby rolling along in her stroller ahead of me. (Also, so far, no one has actually said anything mean to me.)
  2. Fear of failure: Running is something I’ve always wanted to be good at, but what if I never am? To fight this fear, I have to define what it means to be good at running. I used to want to be fast. Now I just want to be fast enough. I want to be fast enough to keep up with my (fairly slow) husband. I want to be fast enough to stay in the race, even if I’m dead last.
  3. Fear of pain: What if I end up miles away from home and some part of me really hurts, but I have to retrace those miles to get back? When my confidence to complete a certain distance is low, I have even circled the same few blocks around my house over and over so I could get back quickly in the event of an injury. I don’t know what injury I expected to occur as I shuffled at a near walking pace. The fact is running has never hurt me except for a few headaches due to heat and poor hydration.

As an aspiring runner, I face many more mental challenges than physical ones. Now that I don’t care about speed, and I don’t worry so much about potential injury, I have only one physical challenge to conquer. No, it’s not my weight! My personal challenge is to run farther, longer, and more often, building by tiny increments at a time.

I just started running again in September, as a 39th birthday gift to myself. When I say I started running “again,” you might imagine I was once one of those taut athletic types, and that I’ve only recently found myself in this overweight condition. Not so! I’ve been about this size for at least a decade, and I’ve “started” running at least a handful of times. At my best, I completed a relay half marathon with my husband. At my worst, I dropped out at mile 6 of a half marathon because I was too slow, and they were closing the course behind me. Or you might say the worst moments in my running life were the times I wanted to do it but didn’t have the courage.

I started this time with a fresh short-term goal — to run an entire 5k in March 2015 without walking.

Training Day 1: I insist that my husband run with me to boost my confidence when I try to bail, to help me feel less conspicuous as a very non-runner-looking person, and to distract me as I huff through a minute of running, followed by four minutes of walking.

Day 3: I repeat the one minute running/four minutes walking intervals without my husband-coach. I do, however, rely on my daughter in the jogging stroller to deflect attention from me. I assume people must think I gained a ton of weight while I was pregnant, and now I’m trying to work it off. The truth is I gained only 12 pounds when I was pregnant, and I lost every ounce during birth.

Day 10: OK, I can run two minutes, but can I run another two minutes after catching my breath for four minutes? And then do it again? Turns out I can. I want to say, “Suck it!” to my doubters, a.k.a. myself.

Day 15: Run three minutes, walk three minutes, then run three minutes again? And repeat the whole sequence for a total of 30 minutes? Thank God for riveting podcasts, counting breaths, just getting to the next driveway, the next corner, the next three minutes of walking.

Day 70: After weeks of viruses, travel, cold weather, flat stroller tires, I’m still at the three-minute interval stage. It’s a pace I’ve become submissive to, as the old confidence demon tells me I probably couldn’t last four or more minutes. Each time I stretch the running interval and shorten the walking interval, I drag along that demon. Once I achieve a new goal, I question whether I can repeat it the next day. The only way I can fight my demon is to keep going out and proving him wrong.

What has changed with this most recent attempt at becoming a runner? Not my body — it looks about the same as always, though it does feel stronger and more capable. The difference is that this time I can see my excuses and fears very clearly. Because I recognize them when they try to block my way out the door, it’s easier to slip by them than it was in the past. I used to think they were solid, immovable walls, but now they are paper-thin.

In November the San Antonio Rock ’N’ Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon course passed within a few blocks of my house. We walked over with the baby to watch the runners and walkers at Mile 6, the same point where this race defeated me five years ago. All I could think about this time was signing up again next year.

Anna Lee Beyer is a writer in Texas. This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Obesity

Weight Loss Supplements Don’t Work for Most People, Study Finds

A Consumer Reports survey shows that most people who use weight loss supplements aren’t aware of how potentially unsafe or ineffective they are

In a survey of 3,000 Americans, researchers at Consumer Reports report Tuesday that most are confused about how weight loss supplements make it to market, and that means they aren’t fully informed about how safe or effective the pills are. What’s more, of those Americans who have tried such pills to lose weight, very few met—and maintained—their goal.

About 20% of those who use diet supplements to lose weight believed they were safe and tested by the Food and Drug Administration. But unlike prescription drugs, supplements aren’t regulated under the strict criteria that require manufacturers to perform rigorous safety and effectiveness testing before getting approved. Instead, supplements are regulated more like foods, so they are assumed to be safe unless they’re shown not to be by reports from users.

Meanwhile, roughly 20% of those surveyed believed that the supplements were safer than more stringently regulated prescription drugs because they were “natural.” But recent studies revealed that many supplements contain substances that have been banned because of safety concerns; in one study two-thirds of weight loss supplements contained banned ingredients. And the supplements aren’t always benign. About half of users reported at least one side effect, ranging from dry mouth to more serious digestive issues including diarrhea and constipation, as well as rapid heart rate.

When it comes to actually losing weight, the supplements didn’t fare so well either. A third didn’t shed any pounds at all, and only 9% of the respondents said they lost their target weight and were able to keep it off. But the supplements may not even take all of the credit for that success — 85% of the people who lost weight while taking a supplement also changed their diet and had an exercise plan.

Which goes back to the advice that most doctors give to anyone serious about getting slimmer: weight loss doesn’t come in a pill, it comes with a healthy diet and regular exercise program.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

10 Biggest Food and Weight Loss Stories of 2014

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I can’t believe it’s been a year since I compiled my last round-up, but it’s that time again! As a research junkie, I think this year’s crop of studies in the areas of nutrition and weight management have been particularly fascinating.

Here are my top 10 picks for discoveries that have either broadened our knowledge, or shed new light on the best ways to stay nourished and lean.

Night shift workers burn fewer calories

This intriguing study found that shift workers burn fewer calories, which means that the amount of food needed to maintain weight becomes excessive, promoting weight gain. The lesson: if your job requires working when most people are sleeping, find ways to curb your calorie intake, or employ healthy habits to help regulate or suppress your appetite.

HEALTH.COM: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

Gut bacteria play a major role in weight control

Number one on my list of the compelling revelations in 2014 is the handful of studies about the role of gut microorganisms in weight management. One study found that there is a relationship between body clock regulation, gut microbiota, and metabolism. When mice received gut bacteria from jet-lagged humans, they gained significant amounts of weight and had abnormally high blood sugar levels (yikes!). Another found that gut bacteria affect cravings, mood, and food choices. And a third concluded that the healthfulness of gut bacteria may play a role in metabolic syndrome risk. All of this research may lead to a future that involves personalized gut microbe testing, special diets specifically designed to alter these organisms, or tailored probiotic therapy. Stay tuned!

Coffee may help prevent obesity

If there’s one thing my clients love, it’s hearing that a food they enjoy is actually beneficial. Two studies this year offered some good news about java. Animal research from researchers at the University of Georgia concluded that a compound in coffee called CGA allowed mice fed a fatty diet to not only stave off weight gain, but also maintain normal blood sugar levels and healthy livers. Another Spanish study, published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned about 15% more calories for three hours post-exercise, compared to those who gulped down a placebo. For more about other potential health benefits of enjoying your morning cup of Joe, check out my post 6 Healthy Reasons to Keep Loving Coffee.

HEALTH.COM: Best and Worst Health News of 2014

Obesity tied to autoimmune diseases

We’ve heard plenty about the connection between obesity and chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. But research from Tel Aviv University concluded that obesity leads to a breakdown of the body’s protective self-tolerance mechanisms, which results in a pro-inflammatory environment that may lead to or worsen autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s Disease and multiple sclerosis, or hinder their treatment. The silver lining: adequate vitamin D may help, both with immunity and weight control. Here’s more about vitamin D, and 6 other nutrients to zero in on as you age.

In women, optimism affects diet quality

There aren’t a lot of feel-good studies tied to weight management, but I loved the conclusion of this one from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, researchers found that those with higher levels of optimism made healthier choices, and had more success in making dietary changes over a one-year period. Those who scored better on the healthy eating index also had lower BMIs, smaller waist measurements, and fewer chronic health conditions. More proof that attitude is everything.

HEALTH.COM: 14 Strategies to Become a Happier Person

There’s a new type of good fat

When scientists say they’re blown away, it’s pretty big news. And that’s just what researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center declared when they uncovered a previously unidentified class of fat molecules that enhance blood sugar control, and may offer a promising avenue for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Unlike omega-3 fatty acids, which are not made in mammals, these “good” fats, called FAHFAs, are produced and broken down in the body. Feeding mice extra FAHFAs resulted in a rapid and dramatic drop in blood sugar. Scientists also looked at FAHFA levels in humans, and found they were 50 to 75% lower in those who were insulin resistant and at high risk for developing diabetes. The data suggest that changes in FAHFA levels may contribute to diabetes. Groundbreaking. Surely there will be more research to come in this area.

Produce is connected to happiness

I love getting my hands on any research related to happiness, so I was thrilled to find this study, which tied healthy food choices to mental health. Scientists at the University of Warwick’s Medical School found that five daily servings of produce may just keep the blues away. More than a third of subjects with high mental well-being consumed five or more daily servings of fruits and veggies. In contrast, happiness was high in less than 7% of those who ate less than one daily portion of produce. In another study in young adults, a higher fruit and veggie intake was tied to “flourishing,” which includes greater happiness, creativity, curiosity, and positivity. For more about how eating well can bolster your mood, check out my post 5 Reasons to Eat Healthier Than Have Nothing to Do With Your Weight.

Umami may curb eating

A very foodie-forward study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that umami—also known as the 5th taste—boosts appetite but also increases post-meal satiety, which may help support weight control. Naturally found in mushrooms, truffles, green tea, seaweed, and tomatoes, incorporating more of this this unique palate pleaser may help you naturally eat less overall. To give it a try, check out my tips on umami, which include suggestions for now to sneak it into healthy meals.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Foods That Control Your Appetite

“Fat shaming” causes weight gain, not loss

I think we all intuitively know this is true, yet weight bullying persists, even if it’s self-directed. In this U.K. study, researchers found that over four years, those who reported weight discrimination gained weight, whereas those who didn’t actually shed pounds. So if you tend to berate yourself, with a goal of weight loss motivation, stop. And for techniques that work check out my post 5 Dos and Don’ts for Weight Loss Motivation.

Language stimulates the brain in the same way as food

This compelling study found that the reward region of the brain that drives us to eat (and also enjoy sex, gambling, drugs, and games) is stimulated by learning new words and their meanings. Interesting! I can’t guarantee it will work, but when a craving strikes, try visiting a site like vocabulary.com to see if logging some lingo time will satisfy your fix.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

Read Next: 6 Great Sites and Apps for Taking Fitness Classes at Home

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TIME European Union

European Court Rules That Obesity Could Be a Disability

The case was brought by a Danish man who weighs more than 350 pounds (160kg)

In a ruling delivered Thursday morning, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said “obesity can constitute a disability” for the purposes of equality at work legislation, the BBC reports.

The ECJ, Europe’s highest court, was asked earlier this year to consider the case of Karsten Kaltoft, a Danish childminder, who claimed he was fired by his local authority for being too overweight.

Judges said that if obesity could hinder “full and effective participation” at work then it could count as a disability. This means that if a person has a long-term impairment because of their obesity then they would be protected by disability legislation.

The ruling is binding across the E.U. but it is left up to the national courts to decide if someone’s obesity is severe enough to be classed as a disability. This is something the Danish court will now have to assess in Kaltoft’s case.

Important to the ruling is the European Court’s judgement that the origin of the disability did not matter, meaning that it is irrelevant if the person is obese because of overeating.

The judgement may mean that employers will have to start providing larger seats, special parking spaces and other facilities for obese workers.

[BBC]

TIME Obesity

Law Enforcement Is the Fattest Profession, Study Finds

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Along with firefighters and security guards

Police officers, firefighters and security guards have the highest rates of obesity of all professions, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

According to the Journal, 40.7% of police, firefighters and security guards are obese. Other jobs with high obesity rates include clergy, engineers and truckers.

On the other side of the obesity scale is a grouping of economists, scientists and psychologists, with an obesity rate of 14.2%. Other professions with low obesity rates are athletes, actors and reporters.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Most Kids Don’t Eat Three Meals A Day, Study Says

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Kids get 42% of their calories from snacks

Eating three square meals a day is the oldest nutrition advice in the book, and some of the most important for staying healthy. But new research shows that children are snacking instead of eating three meals a day on a regular basis, a habit that could be contributing to overweight and obesity and putting them at risk of heart disease later in life.

In a series of reports published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the International Journal of Obesity and the European Journal of Nutrition, Aino-Maija Eloranta, a PhD candidate at the Institute of Biomedicine and Physiology at the University of Eastern Finland, and her colleagues followed a group of 512 boys and girls enrolled in the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study. The children, ages 6-8, and their parents reported what the kids ate and drank for four days. The researchers also measured their body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and insulin levels.

MORE: 7 Eating Habits You Should Drop Now

About 45% of the boys and 34% of girls in the study ate all three meals, meaning a majority of them did not. The most-skipped meal was dinner. “That was a surprise,” says Eloranta. “Among older children, adolescents and even adults, breakfast is the one that is skipped.”

Skipping dinner can have major implications for children’s health, she says, since it’s traditionally the most calorie- and nutrient-rich meal, giving growing children the energy they need to develop. In fact, the children who ate three meals a day had smaller waist circumferences and a 63% lower risk of being overweight or obese than those who skipped some of the major meals.

MORE: 5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Breakfast

The scientists also found that among all kids, snacks provided as much as 42% of the children’s daily calories. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, says Eloranta, except that most snacks are high in sugar and low in healthy nutrients like fiber. On average, the children consumed more saturated fat (which has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease) and salt and ate less vitamin D, iron and fiber than guidelines recommend.

MORE: Alice Waters: The Fate of Our Nation Rests on School Lunches

Eloranta did find one positive trend: lunch. Because lunch was provided at school, it was lower in sugar and higher in nutrients and healthier fats than the kids’ other meals on average. This suggests that one of the best ways to help children maintain healthy weights and avoid heart problems later might be to give them three meals a day. “Maybe we don’t have to worry about single nutrients or single foods [like sugar or fat] that much,” she says. “When you eat meals, you automatically receive the good nutrients.”

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