Fitbit Charge 5: Redefining strength

This past year we’ve endured sickness, loss, increased stress and changes with sleep, diet and exercise. As a result, we’ve been forced to become stronger and more resilient. But strength has taken on a new meaning for most, and being strong in today’s world is more than what we can lift or how fast we can run. It’s also what the mind and body can handle. 

As our approach to strength evolves, we’re introducing Fitbit Charge 5, our most advanced health and fitness tracker, to help keep a pulse on your fitness, stress, heart health, sleep and overall wellbeing – all in a thinner, sleek design. With a brighter, color touchscreen and up to seven days of battery life (varies with use), Charge 5 delivers the convenience features you need to focus on what’s most important.

And, with six months of Fitbit Premium included,1 you’ll get deeper insights, actionable guidance and a range of more than 500 workouts,  mindfulness and nutrition sessions to empower you to do what’s best for your body each day. 

U.S. panel urges diabetes screening to begin sooner, at age 35 – Reuters

A medical examination room is shown at a Kaiser Permanente health clinic located inside a Target retail store in San Diego, California, November 17, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Aug 24 (Reuters) – Overweight or obese adults should be screened for prediabetes and type-2 diabetes starting at age 35, a U.S. government-backed panel of experts in disease prevention recommended on Tuesday, lowering the age by five years.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force‘s new guidance follows a worsening in the nation’s diabetes crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the United States experiencing a 29% jump in diabetes deaths last year among people ages 25 to 44.

The recommendation, published in the medical journal JAMA, was based on data suggesting that type 2 diabetes risk increases significantly at age 35. Type 2 diabetes, by far the most common form of the metabolic disease associated with high blood sugar levels, is largely diet-related and develops over time.

Lowering the age for screening “is a recognition that type 2 diabetes has crept into young adulthood progressively, and in an important way,” said Edward Gregg of Imperial College London, co-author of an editorial published with the recommendation.

The task force, updating recommendations made in 2015, urged overweight or obese adults ages 35 to 70 get screened for high blood sugar levels.

In type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce enough of the blood glucose-regulating hormone insulin or does not use it well. Diabetes complications can include heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease.

About one in three Americans has prediabetes – a higher-than-normal blood sugar level that increases their risk of type 2 diabetes, according to national data. Just over 10% of Americans have diabetes, and most of those have type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes increases the risk of developing diabetes, but does not always progress to diabetes.

The task force found evidence that medical interventions for newly diagnosed diabetes have a moderate benefit in reducing diabetes-related deaths and heart attacks over a span of 10 to 20 years. It also found evidence that lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise reduce progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.

“The screening piece is probably the easiest to implement,” Gregg said.

Engaging patients in long-term management of diabetes risk factors such as obesity and implementing prevention measures such as dietary changes and exercise are more challenging, Gregg added.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Nancy Lapid and Will Dunham

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Giant Tortoise Caught on Video Hunting and Killing a Bird

A giant tortoise hunts a young bird.

A giant tortoise on an island in the Seychelles recently demonstrated that slow and steady can indeed win the race, after it stalked a young bird and swallowed it whole. New research describing the behavior was published today in Current Biology and includes footage of the encounter.

The incident happened in the late afternoon of July 30, 2020, on Frégate Island, which is in the Indian Ocean several hundred miles northeast of Madagascar. An adult female Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) with a shell nearly 2 feet long approached a lesser noddy tern chick (Anous tenuirostris) perched on a log.

Mouth agape, the tortoise forced the tern back to the edge of the log. The bird spread its wings and flapped and pecked at the tortoise. Then the tortoise’s jaws clapped shut on the bird’s head, and it fell off the log to the forest floor. Shortly after, the reptile swallowed the chick whole.

Video of the encounter, filmed by study author Anna Zora, deputy conservation and sustainability manager on the island, can be a little unsettling, especially if you’re used to the idea of tortoises as docile, peaceful animals. But a chelonian has to eat—and keep in mind, they become unfortunate meals for animals higher up the food chain, too. The tern chick offered a bit of bonus protein for the tortoise. Generally, tortoise diets focus on vegetation, though some eat bones and snail shells (for the calcium), occasional carrion, and, in at least one semi-aquatic tortoise species, frogs.

The tortoise’s jaws-wide approach indicated to the researchers that the reptile knew the tern was something that needed to be killed, not something that was already ready to eat.

“It was looking directly at the tern and walking purposefully toward it,” said University of Cambridge biologist Justin Gerlach in a Cell release. “This was very, very strange, and totally different from normal tortoise behavior.”

Gerlach, co-author of the new paper, said that tortoises had been observed consuming birds and other animals in the past, but previous instances weren’t fully documented. “But previously, it’s always been impossible to tell if the tortoise had directly killed the animal, or if it had just happened to sit down on one and find it conveniently squashed dead,” Gerlach said in the release. “Why turn down a bit of free protein?”

In an email to Gizmodo, Gerlach emphasized that the observed behavior is the exception, not the rule, among these tortoises.

“It’s an unusual combination of circumstances that makes it work. For a tortoise to hunt successfully, it is going to have to be faster than its prey, which limits possibilities. Had the tern run away, it would have got away easily, but it’s a tree-nesting species, so as far as it is concerned, the ground is the dangerous place,” Gerlach wrote. “It edges away from the tortoise, but at the end of the log hesitates, and that is enough for the tortoise to grab it.”

Even a short video like this one can provide a wealth of knowledge to biologists. “I have two takeaways from this discovery: firstly, there is so much more going on in tortoise behavior than most people think—they aren’t just slow, dull animals; there’s a lot more activity and intelligence there than you might think,” Gerlach told Gizmodo. “Secondly, it really shows that we can still find really unexpected things from simple observation—not all scientific discovery is about expensive equipment and fancy laboratories. In terms of research, we want to find out exactly what is going on: how many tortoises are doing this (we know it’s more than one, but is it just a few or a large part of the population?), how often do they do it (this tortoise behaves confidently and efficiently, suggesting it has done it before) and, from that, how important is it to the tortoises? Is it just a tasty variation to the diet or do they get something significant from it?”

Habitat restoration on Frégate Island has allowed over a quarter of a million noddy terns (10,000 nests) to populate a stretch of the island about the size of two city blocks. About 3,000 tortoises live on the island, according to a census taken this year. Recent efforts have sought to increase the numbers of both animals after several centuries of dwindling populations.

More: How Does a Chimpanzee Eat a Tortoise? By Smashing It Like a Coconut

She left law to be a full-time vegan recipe blogger

“My blog is my soul,” says Jessica Hylton-Leckie, founder of Jessica in the Kitchen, a blog featuring hundreds of her easy, vegan comfort food recipes. Jessica puts her heart into every recipe she creates, sometimes taking months to get them just right before sharing them with the world. Along with easy-to-follow instructions, she shares snippets of her life and helpful cooking tips, and elevates every recipe with gorgeous, magazine-worthy photos. 

Jessica has always been an entrepreneur. In 2010, while an undergraduate law student, she started a baking business and blog called Jessiker Bakes. At the time, the food blogging world wasn’t the crowded market it is now, but a smaller, tighter-knit community, especially in Jamaica, where Jessica was born and continues to call home today. 

As times changed, Jessica changed with them. She stopped her baking business to concentrate on law school, but she kept her blog. When she transitioned to a plant-based diet in 2014, she evolved her site to share more savory, veg-friendly recipes, and renamed it Jessica in the Kitchen to better reflect its new focus. After getting her degree and becoming a practicing lawyer, she had a bout of debilitating, stress-induced health issues that forced her to face that blogging, not law, was her true calling.  

“It was months of stress. Really bad, bed-ridden stress,” Jessica says. “It was my dad who was like, hey, I’ve seen that you love [blogging], I think you should try to give it a shot.” And so she quit her corporate law career in 2016 and took up Jessica in the Kitchen full-time.

Venomous Snake Chasing You Through the Ocean Just Wants to Be Friends

A pale sea snake swims toward the camera in deep blue waters around a coral reef.

An Olive sea snake.
Photo: Jack Breedon

Sea snakes are total nightmare fuel, but new research suggests their frequent “attacks” on scuba divers are in reality botched attempts to get lucky.

Many scuba divers who explore tropical coral reefs in Australia and New Guinea are all too familiar with the highly venomous Olive sea snake (Aipysurus laevis). These marine reptiles will often chase and attack divers without any provocation. These encounters can get scary in a real hurry, especially when a sea snake wraps itself around a diver’s leg or arm and chomps down.

Deaths from venomous bites are recorded annually, and they typically involve fishermen. Attacks on scuba divers are also reported, but even when sea snakes don’t bite, they can cause divers to panic, making an uncomfortable situation even worse. The reason for these unprovoked attacks isn’t fully understood, hence the importance of a new study, published today in Scientific Reports.

Ever since Richard Shine, a co-author of the new paper and a scientist at Macquarie University in Australia, began working with sea snakes, he’s wondered why these animals sometimes approach him, instead of swimming away.

“A high frequency of ‘attacks’ on divers by sea snakes has always puzzled me,” Shine explained in an email. “Why should a snake attack a person that is too big to eat and poses no threat?”

Olive sea snakes are among the largest marine snake species and prefer coral-reef areas.

Olive sea snakes are among the largest marine snake species and prefer coral-reef areas.
Image: Jack Breedon

The new study was an attempt to answer this question. Data for the research was collected by study co-author Tim Lynch, a scuba diver and researcher with CSIRO. Lynch carefully recorded the behaviors of the serpents in the southern Great Barrier Reef, in what was a 27-month scuba-based investigation of sea snake ecology. Strangely, these observations were made between 1993 and 1995, prompting me to ask Shine why his team’s data is so old.

“You can blame COVID,” Shine replied sarcastically, as the global pandemic is actually what made this work possible. Lynch gathered the data for his PhD thesis in 2000, and Shine knew about the work and wanted to cite it in his own sea snake research. This data was never published in peer-reviewed literature, so “with some time on my hands when COVID made fieldwork impossible, I contacted Tim and we agreed to go ahead and write it up for publication together,” Shine explained.

As a research subject for a field study, the highly venomous Olive sea snake is formidable. They’re among the largest marine snake species, with adult females reaching 6.5 feet (2 meters) in length and weighing upwards of 6.6 pounds (3 kg). Males are only slightly smaller. These swimming snakes spend their entire lives underwater, are widespread in the tropical waters around Australia and New Guinea, and subsist on a broad diet consisting of snails, fish, and crustaceans. During their attacks on divers, the sea snakes make rapid and jerky zigzag movements, which is very unlike their normal swimming behavior.

During the field sessions, Lynch was approached by sea snakes during 74 of 158 encounters. As they swam around him, the sea snakes often flicked their tongues near Lynch’s body. Males approached him more frequently than females and also hung out for longer periods of time.

An Olive sea snake approaching a diver.

An Olive sea snake approaching a diver.
Graphic: Claire Goiran

Interactions happened most frequently from May through to August, which coincided with the sea snakes’ mating season. During the mating season, “males spend much of their time swimming rapidly along the reef edge and courting any females they encounter,” while females “often flee from these courtship attempts, by taking refuge within coral crevices or swimming away rapidly,” the researchers write in their study.

On 13 different occasions—all during mating season—sea snakes charged Lynch at high speeds. Disturbingly, males coiled themselves around his flippers on several occasions—a behavior typically seen during sexual interactions.

“Agitated rapid approaches by males, easily interpreted as ‘attacks’, often occurred after a courting male lost contact with a female he was pursuing, after interactions between rival males, or when a diver tried to flee from a male,” according to the study.

Female sea snakes also charged at Lynch, but they only did this after having been chased by a male or after having lost track of a lustful male.

Taken together, these observations led the researchers to conclude that the seemingly aggressive sea snake behavior is not what it seems.

“The so-called ‘attacks’ by Olive sea snakes are due to mistaken identity—usually occurring when a male sea snake is looking for females, or when a female is trying to escape the amorous attention of a male,” Shine explained.

Mistaking a human diver for a potential mate might seem ridiculous, but Shine says it’s hard to see underwater. It “seems that snakes find it hard to distinguish objects, so they approach anything interesting so that they can tongue-flick it to obtain more reliable scent cues.” As for the encounters involving female sea snakes, the scientists believe it’s yet another case of mistaken identity: The females are simply looking for a place to hide.

The new paper is really great, but I’ve got a couple of nit-picks. I’m sure the data is fine, but having multiple scuba divers collect the field study data would’ve been a good idea. Something about Lynch’s personal swimming style or physical form may have somehow altered the sea snake behavior. Having more recent data to work with would’ve also been ideal, as observation techniques, among other aspects, may have improved over the years.

That said, the study provides an important lesson, as the findings could literally save a scuba diver’s life. As the paper points out, divers who “flee from snakes may inadvertently mimic the responses of female snakes to courtship, encouraging males to give chase,” so to “prevent escalation of encounters, divers should keep still and avoid retaliation.”

Heh, easier said than done, I’m sure—but helpful advice nonetheless.

More: Science reveals the right way to treat a man o’ war sting.

Jeff Bezos reportedly used his unlimited wealth to put an ice cream machine in his house

We’ve made suggestions to Jeff Bezos about what he could do with his hundreds of billions of dollars before, and we’re certainly not the only ones to do so — but it seems like we’ve all been thinking small. While the public has been calling on Bezos to end world hunger or buy vaccines for almost two-thirds of the planet’s population, Bezos has been able to live out every child’s wildest dream by putting a soft-serve ice cream tap in his house, according to ice cream machine maker CVT Soft Serve.

The “What The Actual. Fuck? !?” part of CVT’s caption seems to express surprise that the billionaire would do this, but I’m honestly unsure why. Who wouldn’t want their own ice cream machine if they had all the money? If I were as rich as Bezos, I’d have an entire Golden Corral (which, from what I remember, has soft serve machines along with those garbage, delicious big jelly beans) built next to my house. I might even be generous enough to let the general public eat there for free — ice cream is best when shared with others, after all.

Of course, the reaction online to Bezos’ ice cream has been hilarious. The Washingtonian pointed out that Amazon’s HQ2 design looks suspiciously like a cone of soft-serve (which is a much nicer mental picture than imagining it as a poop emoji), and Vice reported the story with a tweet saying that “Big boy Jeff no longer has to leave his house for ice cream.” And, of course, there have been untold numbers of Bo Burnham references.

All of this raises one serious question — what’s Jeff Bezos’s diet like? There are other billionaires who have famously bizarre diets, like Warren Buffet, who eats ice cream for breakfast, tons of McDonald’s, and drinks Coke almost constantly. Will Bezos be joining him on the ice cream for breakfast train, or saving it as a special treat? These are the questions the world needs answers to.

Oh, and we did ask CVT Soft Serve if we could interview the person who delivered the ice cream to Bezos. Unfortunately, the company told us that it couldn’t share any details.

Why a Slowing Metabolism Probably Isnt Causing Your Weight Gain

Image for article titled Why a Slowing Metabolism Probably Isn't Causing Your Weight Gain

Photo: G-Stock Studio (Shutterstock)

Many of us are carrying a little bit more weight now than when we were in our 20s. However, as tempting as it is to blame this weight gain on a slowing metabolism, that may not actually be the case, according to a study released last week in the journal Science.

In this study, scientists found that once you adjust for weight and body fat percentage, metabolic rates remain stable from ages 20 to 60. What this means is that during that time, your body doesn’t change how many calories it burns just because of your age—instead, your metabolism is tied to your body size and the amount of body fat versus lean mass that you carry.

Why we are still learning how our metabolism works

If you are wondering how a single study can upend everything we thought we knew about our metabolism, that’s because most of our conventional wisdom isn’t based on solid, substantive evidence. The reason for this is because the studies that can answer these questions are expensive, which made it impossible to get a big enough sample size that would offer a rigorous, evidence-based answer of how our metabolism changes with age.

“It’s hard to believe that in 2021, a paper that says, ‘This is how metabolism changes with body size and over the lifespan,’ is news,” said Herman Pontzer, an associate professor of evolutionary biology at Duke University, who was one of the lead authors for the study. “We haven’t been able to get the sample sizes. Getting even 100 people in a metabolism study is usually considered a pretty big number.”

In order to get these numbers, Pontzer, along with about 80 collaborators, combined data collected from multiple labs using the “doubly labeled water” method, which is considered the gold standard in the field of metabolism studies. They compiled a database containing the metabolism data of more than 6,400 study participants, ranging in ages from 8 days to 95 years.

“We haven’t had those numbers to play with before,” Pontzer said.

This gave them a big enough sample size to finally answer the question of how our metabolism changes over the course of our lifetime.

How your metabolism changes over your lifetime

What they found was that, once you adjust for weight and body fat percentage, our metabolism peaks at 1 year old, declines by about 3% per year until you reach 20, then stays stable for the next 40 years, after which it will decline by about 1% per year.

In terms of our own metabolism, if your weight and body fat percentage stay the same during that time, your daily energy needs will not vary. However, if you remain the same weight but some of your muscle mass is replaced with fat, then your body will need more energy each day. However, this change would be a factor of weight and body fat percentage, rather than a fundamental change in your metabolism.

On a cellular level, “your cells are just as busy when you are in your 50s as they were when you were in your 20s,” Pontzer said. However, once you hit 60, your metabolism does change on a fundamental level, with your cells using a little bit less energy as time goes on.

The good news is that weight and body fat percentage are factors you can change. For example, if you have more muscle mass now than you did in your 20s, this would mean your body would have a higher daily energy requirement now than it did then.

They also found that, once you adjust for weight and body fat percentage, men and women burn calories at the same rate. Granted, women tend to have a higher body fat percentage than men, but if you compare men and women who are of the same weight and same body fat percentage, on average, “they would have the same energy expenditure,” Pontzer said.

What to focus on if you are gaining weight

Practically speaking, this means that if you are gaining weight, it’s not because your metabolism is slowing down. Instead, there are probably other factors at play, such as diet and exercise, which are all too easy to let slip in face of all the adult pressures that tend to hit when you are in your 30s and 40s.

This study doesn’t get into why we often gain weight as we get older, but it provides reassurance that a slowing metabolism is not the reason. It also gives us a roadmap for adjusting our weight that is simple (if not easy): Losing fat and/or increasing muscle mass will keep our calorie burn high. That means healthy eating and strength training are especially important as we get older.

When you are faced with a stocked pantry of highly processed food after a long, exhausting day from juggling work, family, and other responsibilities, it’s easy to eat just a little bit more, while also struggling to find the time to get in the activity your body needs to maintain your muscle mass. Over time, this adds up.

The good news is that the database that allowed Pontzer and his collaborators to finally answer these questions about our metabolism is now public access, which means any scientist who would like to use the data can, as long as their proposed research adheres to all ethical guidelines for using patient data. What this means is that we will be able to learn even more about how our metabolism actually works in the years ahead.

“The surprise from this work isn’t that it contradicts previous data, because there just wasn’t any data,” Pontzer said. “The surprise is that when you go and measure this, the biology is surprising in ways you don’t expect. I think there is going to be a lot here to learn.”


Ultrahuman raises $17.5M, touting a wearable blood glucose tracker

Fitness platform Ultrahuman has officially announced a $17.5 million Series B fund raise, with investment coming from early stage fund Alpha Wave Incubation, Steadview Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, Blume Ventures and Utsav Somani’s iSeed fund.

A number of founders and angel investors also participated in the Bangalore-headquartered startup’s Series B, including Tiger Global’s Scott Schleifer, Deepinder Goyal (CEO of Zomato), Kunal Shah (CEO of Cred), and Gaurav Munjal and Romain Saini (the CEO and co-founders of unacademy), among others. The latest tranche of funding brings its total raised to date to $25M.

While the subscription platform has been around since 2019, offering a fairly familiar blend of home workout videos, mindfulness content, sleep sessions and heart rate tracking (integrating with third party wearables like the Apple Watch), its latest fitness tool looks rather more novel — as it’s designed for monitoring metabolic activity by tracking the user’s glucose levels (aka, blood sugar).

Keeping tabs on blood sugar is essential for people living with diabetes. But in the US alone millions of people are prediabetic — meaning they have a higher than normal level of blood glucose and are at risk of developing diabetes, though they may not know it yet.

More broadly, Ultrahuman claims over a billion people in the world suffer from a metabolic health disorder — underlining the scale of the potential addressable market it’s eyeing. 

Having sustained high blood glucose is associated with multiple health issues so managing the condition with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise is advisable. Lifestyle changes can reduce elevated blood glucose and shrink or even avoid negative health impacts — such as by averting the risk of a prediabetic person going on to develop full blown diabetes.

But knowing what type of diet and exercise regime will work best for a particular person can be tricky — and involve a lot of frustrating trial and error — since people’s glucose responses to different food items can differ wildly.

These responses depend on a person’s metabolic health — which in turn depends on individual factors like microbiome diversity, stress levels, time of day, food ingredient and quality. (See also: Personalized nutrition startups like Zoe — which is similarly paying mind to blood glucose levels but as one component of a wider play to try to use big data and AI to decode the microbiome.) 

With metabolic health being so specific to each of us there’s a strong case for continuous glucose monitoring having widespread utility — certainly if the process and price-point can be made widely accessible.

Here, Ultrahuman is having a go at productizing the practice for a fitness enthusiast market — launching its first device in beta back in June — although the price-point it’s targeting is starting out fairly premium. 

The product (a wearable and a subscription service) — which it’s branded ‘Cyborg’ — consists of a skin patch that extracts glucose from the interstitial fluid under the skin, per founder and CEO, Mohit Kumar, with the data fed into a companion app for analysis and visualization.

Image credits: Ultrahuman

The patch tracks the wearer’s blood glucose levels as they go about their day — eating, exercising, sleeping etc — with the biomarker used to trigger the app to nudge the user to “optimize your lifestyle”, as Ultrahuman’s website puts it — such as by alerting the user to a high blood glucose event and suggesting they take exercise to bring their level down.

If the product lives up to its promise of continuous glucose monitoring made easy, lovers of junk food could be in for a rude awakening as they’re served fast feedback on how their body copes (or, well, doesn’t) with their favorite snacks…

“We use medical grade sensors that have been used in the sports technology domain for the last 6-7 yrs with decent accuracy levels,” says Kumar when we ask about the specifics of the wearable technology it’s using. (The sensing hardware is being ‘worn’ here in the sense that it’s directly attached to (i.e. stuck into/on) bare skin.)

While Ultrahuman’s platform has plenty more vanilla fitness content, the company is now billing itself as a “metabolic fitness platform” — putting the nascent product front and center, even though the glucose tracking subscription service remains in closed beta for now.

The startup is operating a waitlist for sign-ups as it continues to hone the technology.   

Ultrahuman touts “thousands” of people signed up and waiting to get their hands on the glucose tracker service — and says it’s seeing 60% week over week growth in sign ups, with wider availability of the product slated for “early 2022”.

Some of the Series B cash will be used to make improvements to the quality of the glucose biomarkers ahead of a full product launch.

On the enhancements side, Kumar tells TechCrunch the team is exploring “other form factors and other types of sensors that could help us capture glucose in a more accurate way and for a longer duration than 14 days”, as they work to hone the wearable. (The current version of the skin-worn sensor only lasts two weeks before it must be replaced with another patch.)

“We want to add more biomarkers like HRV [heart-rate variability], sleep zones and respiratory rate to help people understand the impact of metabolic health on their recovery/sleep and vice-versa,” he adds.

Ultrahuman says it decided to focus on tracking glucose as its “main biomarker” as it can be used as a proxy for quantifying a number of fitness and wellness issues — making it a (potentially) very useful measure of individual health signals.

Or provided the startup’s technology is able to detect changes to glucose levels with enough sensitivity to be able to make meaningful recommendations per user.

“Glucose is interesting because it is a real-time biomarker that’s affected by exercise, sleep, stress and food,” says Kumar, adding: “We are able to help people make lifestyle changes across many vectors like nutrition, sleep, stress and exercise vs being unidimensional. It is also highly personalized as it guides you as per your body’s own response.”

He gives some examples of how the product could help users by identifying beneficial tweaks they could make to their diet and exercise regimes — such as figuring out which foods in their current diet yield “a healthy metabolic response” vs those that “need more optimization” (aka, avoiding the dreaded sugar crash). Or by helping users identify “a great meal window” for their lifestyle — based in their body’s glucose consumption rate.

Other helpful nudges he suggests the service can provide to sensor-wearing users — with an eye on athletes and fitness fanatics — is how best to fuel up before exercise to perform optimally.

Optimizing the last meal of the day to improve sleep efficiency is another suggestion.

If Ultrahuman’s Cyborg can do all that with a (bearably) wearable skin patch and a bit of clever algorithmic analysis it could take the quantified self trend to the next level.

A simple stick-on sensor-plus-app that passively amplifies internal biological signals and translates individual biomarkers into highly actionable real-time personalized health insights could be the start of something huge in preventative healthcare.

Again, though, Ultrahuman’s early pricing suggests there will be some fairly hard limits on who is able to tap in here.

Early adopters in the closed beta are shelling out $80 per month for the subscription service, per Kumar. And — at least for now — the startup is eyeing adding more bells and whistles, rather than fewer. “[Product pricing] will mostly be in the same range but may introduce more services/premium features on top of this,” he confirms.

The (typically higher) cost of eating healthily and having enough leisure time to be able to look after your body by taking exercise are other hard socioeconomic limits that won’t be fixed by a wearable, no matter how smart.


Historic increase in food stamps benefits is on the way

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Biden administration confirms it will boost food stamps by record amount – Reuters

Oranges are displayed for sale at the produce area as a customer browses grocery store shelves inside Kroger Co.’s Ralphs supermarket amid fears of the global growth of coronavirus cases, in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

WASHINGTON, Aug 15 (Reuters) – The U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) on Monday will announce revised nutrition standards dramatically boosting average food stamp benefits, the agency confirmed on Sunday.

The New York Times first reported the plan to unveil the largest permanent benefits increase in the history of the government’s primary anti-hunger program, saying the change would result in average benefits rising more than 25% versus pre-pandemic levels.

Under the new rules, average monthly benefits, $121 per person before the pandemic, will rise by $36 starting in October, the newspaper reported, adding that all 42 million people in the program would receive additional aid.

At the same time, a temporary 15% increase in benefits as part of pandemic relief is set to expire Sept. 30. The $3.5 billion boost approved earlier this year provides about $27 more per person, per month, or over $100 more a month for a household of four, in additional food stamp benefits.

The USDA plans a media briefing on Monday to detail the changes, but a spokeswoman for the agency, Kate Waters, confirmed the Times report in an email.

Under a 2018 law, the agency has been evaluating its rules to estimate the cost of a nutritious diet called the Thrifty Food Plan, which is used to calculate food stamp benefits, which are formally known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Last week, House of Representatives Democrats on the Agriculture Committee’s subcommittee overseeing nutrition issues called the re-evaluation “a critically important step towards ensuring that SNAP benefits adequately support a nutritious diet.”

The Democrats added that “research shows that, while SNAP reduces food insecurity and improves health outcomes for recipients, benefits are too low to fully meet their nutritional needs.”

Last week, the senior congressional Republicans on two agriculture committees asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct an analysis of the USDA’s update of the Thrifty Food Plan.

The Times said the new plan would raise the $79 billion annual program’s costs by about $20 billion versus pre-pandemic levels.

The USDA said in 2019 that about 11% of the U.S. population was covered by the program.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Peter Cooney

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.