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IBM Medicine Patents The Almighty Buck

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

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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:07AM (#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).

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:19AM (#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 InterestingFella ( 2537066 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:27AM (#38514492)

    I do know that the food pyramid takes into account that fats, even though you must consume them or risk malnutrition [], 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 Tharsman ( 1364603 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:33AM (#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 brusk ( 135896 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @10:56AM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:03PM (#38515612)

    When I married my wife, who spent her childhood in Uzbekistan during the Soviet Union, I was at first shocked by her tendency to leave a pot of soup, remains of a roast chicken, or platter of pasta on the counter overnight, then start picking at it the next morning. surely, I thought, this practice is unsafe and dangerous. She looked at me like I was fucking nuts. Indeed, it's been a decade now and we have never had a problem with food spoilage. Ther ARE certain foods that even my wife will treat carefully, but I have come to realize that we Americans have been instilled with a strange fear of the germs which are lurking everywhere just waiting to kill us.

    Above all, it makes very little sense to adulterate my food with preservative chemicals which, as far as I can tell, are protecting be from no actual problem.

  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:13PM (#38515732)

    I see someone isn't aware that they recently reworked the FDA Food Guide Pyramid []

    Apparently, neither have you. It now directs to [] and after several minutes I can not figure out what the heck it is recommending!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:20PM (#38515850)

    no, ALL sugar... or even more broadly...


    Have a nice day

  • by voidphoenix ( 710468 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @01:18PM (#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 [].

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @01:48PM (#38516952)

    I changed my diet completely about a year ago. I do eat lentils, red beans, black beans, tofu, kale, spinach, green leaf lettuce, whole grains, soy cheese, tempeh, seitan, TVP, and so on.

    I'm here to tell you that it's not cheap to keep a diet like that going when you have multiple mouths to feed. It also takes considerable preparation time in the kitchen, which is where I suspect most people really start to give up.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry