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IBM Medicine Patents The Almighty Buck

IBM Granted Your-Paychecks-Are-What-You-Eat Patent 455

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the pizza-is-bad-for-your-paycheck dept.
theodp writes "On IBM's Smarter Planet, at least as envisioned in Big Blue's recently-granted patent for 'providing consumers with incentives for healthy eating habits', the FDA will team up with employers and insurers to determine your final paycheck based upon what you eat. IBM explains that whether a given food item is considered healthy may vary based on a number of factors, including 'individual health histories, family health histories, food intake, exercise routines, medications, and other health related factors', and may even be time dependent ('incentives are greater for consumption of a particular food item during a designated lunch time and less for consumption of the particular food item during other periods of time'). Before being issued, IBM's patent request languished for ten years and was only granted after a Patent Examiner's rejection was overturned on appeal. IBM CEO Sam Palmisano has been a cheerleader for pay-for-monitored-healthy-eating on a national level, which seems to be neatly aligned with the goals of his fellow CEOs on the Business Rountable, who told President Obama in 2009, 'It's very important that we don't have a government [healthcare] plan competing with a private plan and finding out that our employees or the citizens in general could go to a plan that doesn't have the same incentives and requirements and behavioral characteristics to make sure that they do the right things long term'."
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IBM Granted Your-Paychecks-Are-What-You-Eat Patent

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  • by InterestingFella (2537066) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @08:51AM (#38514158)
    In my opinion, the official food guide pyramids are unhealthy in many countries. They consist mostly of fast carbs. Those aren't that good to you, but I understand that they were good choice before, especially in countries with long winters.

    You know what rice, pasta, noodles, potatoes, grain, pizza and similar have in common? They have, historically, been food of low class people. They were what even the people with not so much money could get. While good food like meat, fish and similar are still pricier than the foods with fast carbs, they are generally available to everyone thanks to increase in our technological knowledge and means of mass producing food.

    This is why I find it mind blowing that the official food guide pyramids still promote fast carbs so much. They should not be your main source of energy. They are needed, but not at the amounts people eat them today. The ratio should be more like 33%/33%/33%, or even have more fat and protein than carbs. Pizza isn't bad because it contains fat, it's bad because it contains mixture of high amount of fast carbs and fat, and generally not that much vitamins. If people lowered the amount of carbs they take then they would be both more healthier and more lean.
    • Red meat and chicken is pretty affordable, but fish is not. And let's face it, red meat isn't really good for you either. Too much fat. At least according to studies.

      • by khundeck (265426) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:34AM (#38514548)
        I barely want to point this out, but, what's "affordable" has a lot to do with where you geographically live.

            Fishing == rivers, oceans (ie. coasts, islands,..)
            Red Meat / Chicken == land (ie. farms, mountain herds, ..)

        What's missing in our 'food equation' is self-production and high-valued local produce. Whatever is good/sustainable for your region is what you should consider consuming. Reliance on cheap/subsidized imported food just won't add-up long-term.

        KPH
        • by brusk (135896) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:56AM (#38514780)
          That's true only to a limited extent. If it takes more inputs to produce a kg of food locally than it does to produce it further away and transport it, the latter may still be the better choice. I live in a temperate region with cold winters. Fruit such as apples and berries grows well here, but it all ripens at the same time (summer and fall), so it makes sense to preserve it (drying, freezing, canning, jams, not to mention wine, etc.). In a warmer climate, the same fruits can be produced year-round. So it makes sense for those regions to ship fresh fruit to my area when it's not in season here, and my area to ship preserved fruit to them. That's actually the most economical and energy-efficient use of resource.
        • by ChaoticCoyote (195677) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:10AM (#38514936) Homepage

          I live surrounded on three sides by ocean.

          Fish is hideously expensive, as compared to chiecken, beef, and pork.

          Same thign for fresh fruit -- I live in a state (Florida) that produces lots of fruit, but the stores have incredibly high prices.

          I know people on Food stamps (a large percentage of the U.S.population now, btw) -- and they can't AFFORD to eat healthy. There's a reason poor people are fat -- bad diet, because good food is too expensive.

          • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:37AM (#38515278) Homepage
            Can't afford healthy food, hmm? Let's see. Lentils can be had for something like $2.50 a pound. The good kind of lentils. Organic. Red kidney beans can be had for even less. Oatmeal for breakfast costs mere cents. You still need some more leafy green stuff and the like, sure, but if you can afford chicken or beef, you can afford lentils instead.

            I suspect cost alone is not why people are opting for the highly-refined-flour based "fast carbs".

          • I call bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Feyshtey (1523799) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @11:05AM (#38515638)
            I just checked the weekly print add for a local grocery.

            Chicken -- $1.88/lb for skinless and boneless breasts. Broccoli -- $1.12/lb Bread -- $0.98/loaf

            That's a relatively healthy meal for 3 people for $4. How would you eat worse food for that amount?

            The problem is not the cost. It's the lazy people that cant be bothered to actually cook, and use fast food as the convenient scapegoat.
            • The problem is as much one of time and education as of finances. I am studying nutrition and know a lot of recipes that allow me to both to stretch my grocery budget and eat healthful foods. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't have time to cook good food nor do they really understand how plentiful their options are. That ignorance leads people into the "fast food trap," I think. At least it tastes pretty good. Better than eating beans and rice all the time, right? Except with the right seasonings - w

      • by voidphoenix (710468) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:18PM (#38516572)

        And let's face it, red meat isn't really good for you either. Too much fat. At least according to studies.

        Citation needed.

        I'm not just being snarky. Try this: Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease [nih.gov].

        TLDR: Eating lots of saturated fat DOESN'T INCREASE RISK of coronary heart disease, stroke or cardiovascular disease.

        Read Good Calories, Bad Calories [amazon.com] or the newer one, Why We Get Fat [amazon.com] for a good treatment of the science behind nutrition and health. For something more directly discussing what to eat, Protein Power [amazon.com] is pretty good. It includes sections discussing the science of the diet and why it works.

    • by CarsonChittom (2025388) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:07AM (#38514292) Homepage

      Not to be glib, but [citation needed]. At least in the US, the food advice handed out by the USDA [choosemyplate.gov] is generally considered to be accurate to the current information available to scientists. Everything I've personally seen contradicting it has been merely bare assertions without citation or data, or else points to a study done by a clearly biased group or individual. If you've got something substantive, I'd love to see it, as this is a special interest of mine.

      • by Tharsman (1364603) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:33AM (#38514540)

        My wife is a diabetes researcher. She tells me all the carbs we eat (in the way we consume them in the United States) are, indeed, killing us. Ironically, I asked her if there are any studies on this, and she says there are not (that she knows off, it's not easy to get a grant to "prove" eating bread is unhealthy) but it’s visible in other non-focused studies and existing knowledge of how the body treats sugars.

        Your daily carb intake should consist of fruit and vegetables, not breads or pastas.

      • by AdamnSelene (2183372) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:59AM (#38514816)

        Not to be glib, but [citation needed]. At least in the US, the food advice handed out by the USDA [choosemyplate.gov] is generally considered to be accurate to the current information available to scientists. Everything I've personally seen contradicting it has been merely bare assertions without citation or data, or else points to a study done by a clearly biased group or individual. If you've got something substantive, I'd love to see it, as this is a special interest of mine.

        Nope, the USDA recommendations are subject to an intense amount of lobbying by the large food companies. Anyone who thinks that government scientists are free to speak their minds hasn't worked in government, and unfortunately their scientific research is largely ignored or reshaped by economic and political forces when it comes time to make policy recommendations (see Reagan, R., under whose administration ketchup was famously considered a vegetable in school lunches).

        If you really want to eat healthy, and wanted to eat what the science tells you is best, you might start with the research by Dr T. Colin Campbell and Dr Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. who did large-scale studies of the effects of eating processed crap vs. whole foods. See for example their books The China Study and PlanEat for citations, if you want to understand the evidence and know what to eat.

        For the history of this, I recommend the anthropologist Sid Mintz who wrote Sweetness and Power, a history of sugar. In it he traces the shift in the British diet from healthy, farm-based foods to sugar-based foods and shows how that shift in diet was inextricable from the growth of cities and factories during the Industrial Revolution. In other words, he shows how the political economy of sugar has led to our present sugar and carb based diet. Unlike Campbell and Esselstyn, Mintz won't tell you what to eat, but he will tell you why everyone wants to sell you processed crap masquerading as food.

        The upshot, however, is simple. Eat no-to-little processed, sugar, dairy and high-carb foods; eat only a little meat and some fish; eat a lot of protein-rich legumes, nuts, vegetables and whole grains. Drink mostly water; avoid sugary soft drinks, fruit cocktails and even too much juice. And cook for yourself; restaurants suck (from a healthy eating perspective).

      • What advice are you talking about? When I click the link, I just see an overcluttered website. I tried to find out what I should be eating, so I clicked the "dieters" link, but after three clicks I still can't find advice. The closest I got was (a few clicks from) a daily food plan, which doesn't tell me what the carbs/fat/protein breakdown ideal is, and a few vague double-pie charts.

        I want to know what advice you're talking about so I can know what it is I'm agreeing or disagreeing with.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I lost 60 pounds in 6 months on the "Eat correctly, not so much fast carbs you moron" diet.

      Basically, I eliminated the refined sugars (HFCS is one of the fastest carbs in the universe) and then removing the other low end ones like rice, pasta, bread, noodles, potato, corn, wheat, most fruits. The hardest thing to cut was wheat gluten; they put that shit in everything!

      So what do I eat now? Like you said, mostly fish and fowl, with some red meat in there. I also eat liver on a monthly basis for the super-dens

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:24AM (#38514466)

        You can lose weight on almost any diet that restricts calories in some way. Not to downplay your weight loss, but people have been losing weight on every sort of diet imaginable for decades. The trick is *keeping* it off, of course.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          My personal favorite diet is getting enough sleep and drinking some tea. Took off 30# like that and it's never come back. Plus, I have plenty of excuses to go to bed early and get plenty of sleep.

      • by Rolgar (556636)

        Market economics. Cut off the subsidies for wheat and corn. All of that land would probably be just fine as pasture land for cattle, sheep, and I know of a local place (Kansas) that sells free range pork. The unfortunate thing is that machinery and subsidies have substantially driven up the price of land making it difficult to make payments when the prices are bid by farmers are going to plant row crops.

        As prices go up with demand, more farmers will switch to growing those foods. It wouldn't be instant, but

      • by Karmashock (2415832) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:00AM (#38514824)

        Human civilization was built on carbs.

        Wheat.
        Rice.
        Potatoes.
        Maize.

        Huge portions of the planet would starve to death without it. And if we tried to shift just the first world over to it, costs would inflate so high that you probably couldn't afford to eat that way either. Even in the first world, the majority of our calories come from carbs. We simply couldn't feed billions of people on anything else.

        Carbs are cheap. We can produce them in bulk at low cost. They can be stored in some cases for years very easily. Carbs feed the world and have fed the world for thousands of years.

        It isn't carbs that makes people fat. It's the lack of exercise. Just move every so often. Take up a sport. Something. And then you can eat mash potatoes every night and chase it with gravy. Just burn some calories.

      • by MHolmesIV (253236) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:58PM (#38517072)

        In the late part of the second world war, the US did a study on partial starvation. The study probably couldn't be repeated nowadays due to ethical concerns, but it gave a lot of interesting data. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment [wikipedia.org]

        Among the conclusions from the study was the confirmation that prolonged semi-starvation produces significant increases in depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis as measured using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) (a standardized test administered during the experimental period). Indeed, most of the subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression. There were extreme reactions to the psychological effects during the experiment including self-mutilation (one subject amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe, though the subject was unsure if he had done so intentionally or accidentally). Participants exhibited a preoccupation with food, both during the starvation period and the rehabilitation phase

        Basically, it's very difficult to make diets work. If you want to lose weight, you need to increase your calorie burning, and keep your calorie consumption at reasonable levels. Restricted calorie diets will just make you food-focused, and as soon as you stop, you'll return to your genetically predisposed weight.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      I find it mind blowing that the official food guide pyramids still promote fast carbs so much.

      The official pyramids aren't based on what's good for you, they were produced after the second world war when some foods were plentiful and others were scarce. The idea was to get people to eat what was most available.

      There's also reason to believe that certain agricultural representatives had an 'influence' in what's in them.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        There's also reason to believe that certain agricultural representatives had an 'influence' in what's in them.

        Speaking of which, I think I saw that congress has let the ethanol subsidy die. That would be a good thing.

      • by brusk (135896)
        Actually the first official food pyramid was in the 1970s, and the USDA no longer uses that model, having replaced it this year with MyPlate. Yes, there are still major problems with it, and it represents an imperfect compromise between the more abstract idea of getting certain nutrients and the more concrete idea of eating certain foods, but if more Americans followed it they would certainly be healthier.
    • I can't remember who said "Everyone has an opinion. But we are interested in knowledge.". It surely applies here. ;)

      Why is pizza bad? Is it bad at all? I don't know. I sure have an idea that it is less healthy than other options, but I'll be honest and say that I really don't know. That's why people study Nutrition at Uni. I do know that the food pyramid takes into account that fats, even though you must consume them or risk malnutrition [wikipedia.org], you should eat very little of them, especially if you are sedentary,

      • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:23AM (#38514450)

        Pizza isn't inherently bad. It's a bit high on protein, but other than that it's perfectly fine and easily included in a balanced diet. Cheese, tomato, oregano, crust, those are all things that fit well in a well balanced diet. Where you start to get in trouble is with the toppings, pepperoni, sausage and such.

        • by brusk (135896)
          The problems with much American pizza are (a) too much cheese and (b) the amount of oil used in the dough.
        • by bigdavex (155746)

          Being high in protein (certainly to the extent that pizza is) is not a problem.

          Taking the fiber out of the grain is a problem. Excessive fat is a problem.

      • by InterestingFella (2537066) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:27AM (#38514492)

        I do know that the food pyramid takes into account that fats, even though you must consume them or risk malnutrition [wikipedia.org], you should eat very little of them, especially if you are sedentary, because you won't burn the huge amount of calories you would ingest.

        Actually, fats are easy to burn and they burn more healthier too (slowly, but you feel full for much longer). The problem is when you mix lots of fat with lots of carbs. Fats can't burn before your body has burned fast carbs. At the same time, fast carbs make you want more food sooner than fat does. In the end you still have some fat left that would had got time to burn if it wasn't for the carbs. This is also why pizza is bad. Not because it contains fat, but because it contains high amount of both carbs and fat.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Why is pizza bad? Is it bad at all?

        Pizza eaten in moderation? Nothing wrong with it.

        Pizza every day? Regularly doing all-you-can-eat pizza until your guts are bursting? Not so much.

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:19AM (#38514420)

      The short answer is whatever happens to be trendy at the time. One year, carbs will be all the rage. The next, they'll be bad.

      Remember, your paycheck reflects how well you obey, citizen!

      • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:32AM (#38514532)

        That right there is one of the problems. It's one thing to give a bonus for employees that take care of themselves in general and quite another to pay for specific methods of doing it.

        As much as I do think that businesses should encourage healthy eating and clean living, I really don't think this sort of direct approach is really appropriate. If they want to help their workers they ought to be nudging them towards it. Making it as convenient as possible to access healthy snacks, subsidizing exercise programs and possibly encouraging people to use the stairs.

      • My personal take on this. I think the primary reason we constantly see trendy diets is two-fold. For the most part, they all work in their own unique way. Second, people can't stay away from sucrose and HFCS. For some it's an addition while for others it's simply too inconvenience to avoid them. Sugars, that's your #1 enemy right there! That stuff is everywhere. My advice is super simple. Drop the sugars first. Your body will go through withdrawal believe it or not. After a few weeks of no sugar, continue w

      • by bigdavex (155746)

        The short answer is whatever happens to be trendy at the time. One year, carbs will be all the rage. The next, they'll be bad.

        I've been frustrated by mixed messages, too. On the other hand, the thing that the mothers and experts have been saying for decades is to eat more vegetables. And Americans don't do it, because they don't want to, not because they are ill-informed.

        • by sabs (255763)

          Because Americans don't know how to cook vegetables. Most americans veggies taste bad, and not tasty. People are raised with their mothers having done horrid things to vegetables, and now they won't eat them.

          Add to that, that Veggies are EXPENSIVE, and you get a double edged sword.

          You want to improve dietary health in america, bring back Home Ec in school. Teach everyone how to cook, at least the staples. But if all you eat are canned veggies, you're going to hate veggies.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:40AM (#38514612) Homepage Journal

      As noted in TFS (TFA is firewalled off here), "whether a given food item is considered healthy may vary based on a number of factors, including 'individual health histories, family health histories, food intake, exercise routines, medications, and other health related factors".

      The guidelines say we're eating too much salt and we're all going to die of heart disease and high blood pressure, but there's no heart disease at all in my family, and my own blood pressure has always measured either normal or low -- and I eat a LOT of salt.

      It annoys the hell out of me. I'm genetically thin, and everything is low fat, low calorie, diet. Damn it, I'm too thin, not too fat. One size does not fit all!

      My grandmother was born in 1903, back in the day they cooked with lard and butter and ate eggs and bacon every morning. Her doctor told her that if she didn't get her cholesterol down she was going to die. Well, the doctor died. So she got a new doctor who told her the same thing, then he died, too. Five doctors later she finally did die -- she fell down and broke her hip in 2003.

      If you want to diet and exersize, more power to you. But keep your goddamned nanny state micromanagement out of my kitchen. I'm going to die from something, it might as well be eating unhealthy foods and having fun.

    • Really the problem is with peoples life style and diets don't match.

      The office worker who doesn't do too much activity should have more veggies and less protean and carbs.
      The guys who are doing physical labor will need more carbs and protean (they need the quick energy after the meal, and they are doing a lot of work that damages the body so protean helps them heal up stronger).
      Then you have people with different body needs. Some people tend to need more of a nutrients then others.
      For example. I tried to
    • Like I always say, it's an "economic food piramyd." There's just no way in hell that eating more carbs (bread, pasta) than protein (fish, meat) is the ideal diet for people.

      Thing is, producing bread is cheaper than producing meat, and the economy would collapse if demand for high protein food suddenly went up, way above that of unhealthy carbs. Remeber we ALREADY have a serious food distribution problem in the world, ever since we learned to use food to speculate in the commodities markets.

      Which brings me t

    • Yes, that's precisely why this IBM patent is so bad imho. People will be forced to eat what other people, often very badly informed, consider to be healthy while it may actually be bad for you to eat that stuff. Most companies using such a system would immediately start giving penalties for fat and calories because everyone "knows" that they are bad. O, and anything containing cholesterol, obviously. Never mind recent scientific discoveries changing things from the "good" to the "bad" column or vice versa a
  • I only eat the newest vegetable! Pizza! Give me a bonus for being a healthy eater!

  • I knew it. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Ok.. it's gonna be real unpopular to say. And fairly ugly... But it's the truth.

    The nazis would be proud of what america has become. And what we're turning into.
    We came up with ways to dehumanize people they never even dreamed of. :(

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why would anyone be unhappy with a true statement? What right does someone have to say what I can and cannot eat because I pay them to pay my medical bills? I find this in the same regard as the fireman who have to sign a contract saying they won't smoke, or the seatbelt laws that you pay 200-300 dollars in fines for not wearing a seatbelt. My personal life is somewhere other people have no business being.. I don't remove the toys from your kids happy meals, I don't walk up behind you and tell you that a sl

      • by deck (201035) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:20AM (#38514426)

        I am fine if you don't wear your seat belt and maybe the law shouldn't be that way. But please don't ask to have your injuries caused by not wearing it covered. The auto insurance company I am with does just that. If you don't wear a seat belt then they pay a small percentage of the medical and don't cover anything that is obviously a result of not wearing the seat belt (like being ejected from the vehicle and bouncing down the road). It is a business proposition between my insurance company and myself. To keep my rates lower, I wear a seat belt. And if the law should state something, it should be that insurance companies and individuals are not liable for injuries incurred because a seat belt is not worn.

        • by brusk (135896)
          But the public still pays a cost, since the ambulance is still going to take you to the hospital and the ER is still going to treat you if you don't wear your seat belt. And you might need to be buried in a pauper's grave. If you can't pay for those expenses, they fall on the whole community.
        • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @01:43PM (#38517610) Homepage

          Well, OK, but you need to be aware of the full consequences. Do you like any sort of physical activity at all? Statistically speaking, 100% of sports injuries are fully preventable by not participating in sports, so I guess we just won't cover any of those any more. No bicycling (you could get hit by a car), no walks (same), most certainly no DIY home repairs (people hurt themselves all the time that way).

          No matter who you are and what you do, there is SOMETHING you do frequently that others would like to ban to keep insurance costs down. If it's fair for your ban list to be implemented, it's fair for their ban lists to be implemented. I can just see that nirvana now! Every day on TV in the morning we'll receive our insurance approved activities list for the day. No need to think about it, when the whistle blows, move on to the next officially approved activity. Please be sure to consult an approved manual to make sure you're performing your activities in a fiscally responsible manner.

      • Here's something for you to consider:

        At work, my health insurance plan charges me $70/month more for a literal tobacco surcharge. Personally, I find that I won't see the effects until long after I stop carrying their insurance, but that's their rule. Ostensibly, it has a good motive - to get their customers to quit smoking, or to pay for any additional incurred health care costs associated with smoking (to their credit, they provide everything to quit for free - nicotine patches, gum, Chantix, whatever). OT

    • Re:I knew it. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:02AM (#38514850)

      Actually, it reminded me more of something that really happened in the former East European countries.

      Every time something went low in stock, suddenly the whole propaganda apparatus was afloat with reasons why eating or using this product would be bad for you. Coffee? Yuck, increases your blood pressure and pushes you into your grave. Meat? Unhealthy to the max, it's a killer. Butter? Well, use it sparingly and eat a lot more bread.

      I kid you not when I tell you the first thing that came in mind is something like this. Now add things like declaring ketchup a vegetable to save money on kids' cafeteria food and some other ludicrous ideas and you end up with something not much different from what we could watch in the eastern European countries not that long ago.

    • by lexsird (1208192)

      Welcome to modern fascism, where have you been? It's been gradually leading to this for decades, now it's kicking into high gear. I wish they had done this when I was younger. I am too old for the "rampaging rebel" scene. But don't worry, about the time we are ready to revolt again, they will have another handy "terrorist" attack, take whatever freedoms we have left away and send us to another fucked in the head war.

      IMHO, hell doesn't burn hot enough for these fuckers delving into our personal lives, but I

  • This is yet another case showing that you can get a patent for absolutely anything.

  • Hey IBM! How about you stick to making computers and software, and I'll decide what I want to eat, okay?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:07AM (#38514302)

    Just a quick reminder that IBM's patent process is focused on numbers, specifically being #1 year after year (because now it would be news if we weren't #1).

    Also, in order to advance in IBM you have to participate in patenting, and IBM pays $$$ per patent, so it's the only real bonus system at IBM.

    Even more important, IBM has dozens (if not hundreds) of independent patent review boards, each focusing on a specific, narrow area of expertise. Some are very rigorous, some are very lax. That's just the nature of the business.

    Don't assume that every IBM patent you see is tied to a product plan or even a gleam in some executive's eye (as would be the case at a smaller firm).

  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bruce McBruce (791094) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:08AM (#38514306)
    In essence, they just patented a concept of deciding that thin employees get paid more and fat employees get paid less, and indeed judging their personal lives? Sounds like they're cornering the supermodel engineer market.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      You could pay based on how close a person eats to his calorie target (eg. 2400 calories/day), bonus multiplier if it's got lots of variety in it.

  • Does anyone have some link how the system is supposed to work?

    It's all nice and fine to have the back-end sorted out, but what about the data gathering about what people really eat? Do the propose to have everyone implanted with an oesophageal monitor to detect evil burgers or chocolate input?

    • by Kazymyr (190114)

      They are probably talking about tracking your purchases probably based on some personally identifiable information (credit cards, store reward cards etc). And assume you eat what you purchase.

  • by florescent_beige (608235) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:13AM (#38514352) Journal

    It is consistent with recent history that U.S. leadership believes they are entitled to mandate people's behaviour. If they really wanted to make people's lives better they would re-think their belief that fear and greed are the only two dimensions of human motivation. Fear being the problem at hand.

    Fear of unemployment, fear of China, fear of Islam, fear of the black man, fear of Mexicans, fear of government, fear of the competition, fear of young people, fear of old people, fear of liberals, fear of bombs, fear of crowds, fear of complacency, fear of men wearing fezzes, fear of sexuality, fear of strange.

    People eat comfort food because it makes them feel better. Americans feel bad. Maybe American leadership could make it a priority to help their citizens to have happy lives and stop it with the forcing people to do that they say.

    • This is the guise fascism takes in America; outsourcing the abrogation of rights to private industries as an end run around the constitution.
  • Wow, creepy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Feyshtey (1523799) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:14AM (#38514364)
    This whole concept just makes my skin crawl. Start with the thought that this cant really be implimented unless someone (IBM? FDA?) knows exactly what you eat at any given moment, and it just gets more and more twilight zone from there.
  • Really we can patent food restrictions based on particular beliefs about what's "right" for you to eat? Seriously? Not to mention the the whole food Nazi aspect of this, ooh wait that's a belief system too and I think the patent is still active. Someone should sue for patent infringement!!!
  • BMI and other factors are not a good fit for all.

  • Prior Art? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Esion Modnar (632431) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:30AM (#38514516)
    Meaning, of course, that guy with the "Will Work For Food" sign.
  • pre existing conditions is what we don't need any more so what next they can't hire some based on there health even if they need them / want them. So they make them a contractor with no benefits at all even the non health ones?

  • poor workplace environment leads to poor eating.

    If you are pushing people to work long hours then they don't have the time to cook good food and end up eating alot of fast food.

    Working lunches / working though lunches does not promote good eating habits.

    • by Jiro (131519)

      This should be modded up.

      Companies like to put the burden on employees. Never on themselves. Not having lots of mandatory overtime is sure to increase the health of the employees, but *that* is one method of health-promotion they will never use. Instead they want to work the employees more and then take away their overtime pay on the grounds that the employees don't eat healthy (which was caused by the long working hours).

  • Irony Bomb (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I've worked a combined total of 8 years at IBM as a contractor over the course of my career. The cafeteria in their 500 building in Research Triangle Park is infamously bad. Notorious, even. Their idea of saying they have healthy foods is having a salad bar. Most of the food served at IBM is below the quality of what I remember eating in a public school cafeteria as a kid, and that was pretty bad. The overwhelming majority of what they sell there is low grade cheeseburgers & fries, pizza, fried chicken,

  • NON job based plans let people take jobs based on the job and not what healthcare plan they have.

    What if you some stuck in a crap job with a good and they have to trun down a other job that is better career wise do to the other place not have a health plan.

    Some places use and abuse contractors as they don't have to pay for health plans.

    health plans suck up funds and some times lead to places dumping people who get sick, get pregnant and so on just so they don't have to pay for it.

  • Work != Labor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:42AM (#38514632)
    My brother is over 50 and a baggage handler for a major airline. On his feet, lifting, walking, on the move continuously several hours a day. He's had no flab ... until this year. I saw him in November with a bulge around the middle. He had put on 30 pounds. "What happened?" "Desk job." Employers wake up! You are not the innocent victim of the obesity epidemic, you are a primary contributor. Every job description must include some activity other than "sit in chair, click mouse, press keys, answer telephone." Put labor back in work and your employees will get more work done and cost less in the long run.
    • by brusk (135896)
      That's incredibly dumb. Why would you require, say, a highly-skilled programmer to spend X hours a week moving boxes? As an employer, you would be paying a huge premium for a probably incompetent laborer (not to mention the risk that he/she would suffer an injury), and there might not be any physical labor to do on the site where he/she works. If you want that employee to be in shape, provide a gym or discounted gym membership. And in cases like your brother's, it would make sense for the airline to provide
    • I hear a lot of this sort of thing regarding desk jobs lately, but to me the answer is simple: Regardless of what job you have you simply must work out, and while you don't have to work out an insane amount, you must work out on a regular weekly schedule and stick to it...period.

      I'm a programmer and have NO activity during work. However for the last (almost) 20 years I've made sure to do 20 minutes of very strenuous aerobics twice a week, and two days of extensive weight lifting (on day of leg/abs stuff a

  • IBM leads the world in nutrition micromanagement in order to pay its employers less?

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @09:57AM (#38514798) Homepage

    What's most remarkable about this is that people who would wail and howl about the government directing you what to eat and when, apparently think that it would be appropriate for the corporations most people depend upon for employment to do so.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:17AM (#38515024) Homepage
    Is to have a company cafeteria that gives away the healthy food free and charges you normal prices for the junk food.

    No need to adjust the paycheck - that is just stupid. You end up giving 1/3 to 1/2 the benefit to the government via taxes, and have to institute a complex tracking system.

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:17AM (#38515028)

    Isn't this a huge HIPPA violation?

    I personally don't care. However, I'll tell all you /.ers that my son is horribly allergic to gluten protein in wheat, soy proteins, and casein proteins. Yes he had a Very rough time as a little kid but as a seemingly last ditch effort the gastroenterologist, or whatever the F he's called, ordered some blood tests and basically told us he'd never seen a kid with that high of allergen antibody levels, and more or less never feed him wheat, soy, or milk products again and he'll probably live. Actually after cutting that out of his diet, he thrived, not just "survived". This was a last ditch effort because the medical industrial complex makes money selling anti-steroidal drugs and exploratory surgery and endless consultations, not making money by just telling people "don't eat the stuff you're allergic to anymore, mmm kay?" To say I'm pissed off about the whole situation is an understatement. To misquote someone, I wish the medical industrial complex had but one neck, so I could throttle it.

    Interestingly enough, when we cut out the bad stuff, the health of my wife and I improved measurably and dramatically, blood tests for cholesterol and our weight and other stuff. I later find out we're eating what is trendily called a "paleo-diet" or whatever, but aside from all the bookselling and Oprah interviews it just boils down to, if your ancestors ate it 10Kyrs ago, you should eat the closest equivalent. Lots of baked fish, meat and veggie stir frys (without soy sauce) lots of salads, which if you know what you're doing are extremely tasty, etc. The grill gets a good workout. Kabobs. BBQ chicken on a salad. That kind of food. Not so much bread and pasta and pretty much anything that comes out of a freezer box ready to be heated up.

    Anyway the point is I really don't need some idiotic B-school dropout HR drone arguing with me, about how I should be paid less, because my son isn't eating enough whole wheat and tofu with a big glass of milk, and I'm not interested in sending endless medical records to HR, and endless permission slips, and just the whole bureaucratic nightmare. And if I buy food at a farmers market I'm somehow to be treated as an enemy of the state. Or I have to attend "food confession" where the "dietary priest" either hears my dining sins or grabs my fun parts, can't remember which.

  • by porky_pig_jr (129948) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @01:49PM (#38517666)

    when I was working for IBM/Lotus division.

    Now I know why my paycheck wasn't that great.

    PPJ.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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