The classic musical “Les Miserables” hit the big screen on Christmas Day and has since received rave reviews from fans and critics alike. However, one element of the film that’s stirred much discussion is the frail figures of both Hugh Jackman and Ann Hathaway, who combined lost nearly 50 pounds to play characters in the midst of a revolution.
Jackman appeared on Ellen in late December to discuss his demanding role as Jean Valjean, which required him to appear gaunt and distressed in much of the film. “I lost about 25 pounds,” said Jackman. “I was as lean as I could possibly be.” Jackman had also gone on a water dehydration diet for certain portions of filming in order to get a “sunken cheek” look. “I hadn’t drunk for 36 hours I had a massive headache,” he said.
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Talk of the fiscal cliff and ObamaCare makes me worry about my overweight friends. I fear it’s only a matter of time before they are blamed for dragging down the economy. Obesity is a huge expense, and unlike other costly health problems, obesity is in plain view.
Today, just over one third of Americans has a Body Mass Index of 30 or more, the obesity range. Per-capita medical spending for those individuals is 150 percent higher than for those who are not obese. The Institute of Medicine and other experts estimate the United States spends between $150 and $190 billion a year on obesity-related problems. Spending is driven by prescription drugs and medical procedures for heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and the other chronic diseases of obesity and by days missed from work and the long-term disability that commonly occurs. When public funds from Medicare and Medicaid pay the bill, everyone is impacted, but even when public funds are not involved, everyone pays higher insurance premiums to cover the cost.
Few of us realize that the U.S. health care reform law of 2010 (ObamaCare) allows employers to charge obese workers 30 to 50 percent more for health insurance if they decline to participate in a qualified wellness program. A growing number of companies have begun to make obese workers enroll in weight loss programs or pay higher insurance premiums. For instance, state workers in Alabama are subjected to at-work weigh-ins and body fat tests. Anyone with a BMI of 35 or more must attempt to lose weight or have $25 automatically deducted from their paychecks. To opt out of the weigh-ins, one can accept the $25 deduction.
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Ever since bathroom scales became a household mainstay and we no longer require medical professionals to monitor our weight, taking ownership of our own healthcare has continued to evolve. Today we live in a world where we can research our own symptoms from various sources, do a great deal of medical testing at home with products we can buy at the drug store, and even use a mobile phone app to monitor our heart rate and oxygen levels.
A new device introduced this year for smart phones called Tinke has helped further self healthcare even more. The tiny little device plugs into your phone and becomes a monitor of heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen levels, and heart rate variability. The user simply places their finger over the sensors and the technology detects changes in blood skin blood volume to get readings.
From there the data is displayed on the phone through the Tinke app, and the user can begin to track their own health.
The information can remain completely private, however, users are encouraged to join the Tinke community. Just like many wellness apps, the community of users is intended to encourage and motivate. The sharing of fitness and wellness information has been useful for many people in the social media world as they try to improve their health. Again, something we used to only do in the privacy of our own doctor’s office.
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Los Angeles has become the largest city in the U.S. to partake in what’s known as Meatless Monday. It’s been a mostly social media-driven national effort by The Monday Campaigns to get people to eat vegetarian meals every Monday.
Friday, November 9, the LA City Council unanimously approved a resolution to adopt Meatless Monday for the city. The council resolution gives statistics showing that more than half of LA County residents are obese or overweight and states that reducing meat consumption can decrease the chances of having health issues. Councilwoman Jan Perry encouraged the motion due to growing health issues such as heart disease and cancer.
“We can reduce saturated fats and reduce the risk of heart disease by 19 percent. While this is a symbolic gesture, it is asking people to think about the food choices they make. Eating less meat can reverse some of our nation’s most common illnesses,” said Perry. “The issue is, how does a local municipality engage in this and how do we create change? If we do it one plate at time, one meal, one day, we are ratcheting down the impact on our environment. We start with one day a week and then, who knows, maybe we can change our habits for a lifetime.”
Here’s a list of a few restaurants/business in the L.A. area that plan to actively participate in the resolution every Monday (some may even offer Meatless Monday discounts).
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