The Price of Preemies
And other news from the techno-frontier.
Outlet: New York Times, Jan. 4
Gist: 1) Virtually no commercial diet program has "published reliable data from randomized trials showing that people who participated weighed less a few months later than people who did not participate." 2) Since there's no good evidence, maybe you should avoid the most expensive programs. 3) The most expensive programs are supervised by doctors. 4) "Doctors could do as well as these programs" just by telling people to diet and exercise. 5) All diet programs fail because "they're fighting biology."
Critique: Thanks for the help.
Item: Medicare will pay for alcoholism screening and for counseling to quit smoking.
Source: Medicare administrators
Outlets: New York Times, Dec. 24; Los Angeles Times, Jan. 2
Gist: Alcoholism screening begins this week. Coverage of smoking cessation counseling begins in March. Both will cost a lot of money but save more by preventing cancer, heart and liver disease, and other maladies.
Cultural analysis: We're socializing treatment of smoking and drinking because we now view them as diseases, not vices.
Economic analysis: We socialized treatment of the consequences of smoking and drinking when we created Medicare 40 years ago. Now we're just cutting costs. ... 10:30 p.m. PT
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.