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Smokers and Obese Workers Must Pay More for Health Coverage

By Kelsey Murray

If you are a smoker, overweight, or have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you may end up paying more for health care as many employers are following a new trend: penalizing those employees who have unhealthy lifestyles instead of rewarding those who have healthy lifestyles.

In the past two years, the percent of American employers who impose some sort of financial penalty on their employees has doubled, making it now 19 percent. This number should double again in 2012, according to Towers Watson, a benefits consultant company.

So why are these people being penalized for their lifestyle choices? It is common knowledge that those who smoke or are obese usually have higher health risks, which in turn leads to increased health care costs. As a result, some companies are now requiring these employees to pay more for their health coverage because it makes sense that these people will end up costing the company more in health care coverage.
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Juvisync is the First Combination Drug for Cholesterol and Diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and with it comes the announcement of a new combination drug to help battle the growing disease. It’s called Juvisync, and it’s the first cholesterol and diabetes combination drug of its kind. Being that high cholesterol and diabetes tend to go hand in hand for those with Type 2 diabetes, this drug promises to eliminate two birds with one stone.

Type 2 diabetics often have many other conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It is important that these areas are as closely managed as their blood sugar to prevent complications like stroke and heart attack.

Healthy goals for diabetic patients for blood pressure should be less than 130/80 and LDL cholesterol levels, a.k.a.  “bad cholesterol,” is less than 100 mg/dL and sometimes even less than 70 mg/dL. Juvisync’s aim is to help patients reach their goal and cut down on their daily pill count.


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Fat Tax Levied in Denmark

It’s finally happened: a fat tax is being implemented. Before you get hot under the collar, it’s not happening stateside. Yet. Denmark is the country bringing about the first tax to directly attack obesity.

“It’s the first ever fat tax,” said Mike Rayner, Director of Oxford University’s Health Promotion Research Group, who has advocated for quite some time the idea of taxes on unhealthy foods.

“It’s very interesting. We haven’t had any practical examples before. Now we will be able to see the effects for real.”
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Healthy Cholesterol Can Be Achieved Through Healthy Fats

High nutrient and whole foods: FOR THE WIN! A recent study was conducted to evaluate the effects of diet on cholesterol. It was observed that people who ate food such as nuts, soy, avocado, olive oil, and oats saw a greater drop in cholesterol than those who maintained a low-fat diet.

A 6-month study was conducted in four different locations in Canada. Two groups of participants were selected and all had elevated cholesterol levels. One group was put on a diet that included foods believed to improve heart health, yet were high in healthy fats. The other group was placed on a diet that emphasized low-fat foods, including whole grains and high-fiber options.

The first group obtained their food list from a US Food and Drug Administration list. This list contained approved suggestions for better heart health. Foods on that list included olive oil, avocado, oatmeal, soy, tofu, beans, lentils, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Many of these foods contain high fat levels. However, they are natural and healthy fats.


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Keeping Your Cholesterol Numbers in Check

Many things come with age. Unfortunately, some of those are narrowed arteries and high cholesterol. These days, being prescribed medication for high cholesterol is almost a given, maybe even a right of passage from middle age to senior citizen-hood. But let’s face it, no one likes to take medication and many people would like to try supplements and lifestyle changes before they jump on the prescription bandwagon.

So first, let’s define a few things. When you get a lipid panel here are things you will see and what your target numbers are:

  • HDL=good cholesterol Goal: Greater than 40 mg/dL for men, greater than 50 mg/dL for women
  • Total cholesterol = combination of your LDL/HDL and other components Goal: Less than 200 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides = Fat that your body stores Goal: Less than 150 mg/dL


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