A Genetic Test to Spot Health Risks

Scientists first mapped the human genome 14 years ago. Since then, they have learned a lot about genetics, and someday that wisdom may lead to a cure for many diseases. But we’re not there yet. There’s “a ton we don’t understand,” says Lawrence Brody, director of the genomics and society division at the National Human Genome Research Institute. Keep that in mind if you take advantage of the first “direct to consumer” genetic test for health risks. That test became available in the spring, when 23andMe, a DNA testing firm, was the first company to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell directly to consumers–without a prescription–a genetic test that screens for certain health risks. Here’s how it works: You pay $199 to order a Health and Ancestry kit online from 23andMe.com. When it arrives, you spit into a tube and mail it back. Two months later, …

CONTINUE READING

Should Wearable Fitness Devices Have a Role in Your Wellness Plan?

The appeal is obvious: wearable devices that track a user’s movements or exertion throughout the day can provide the level of data necessary to help make the habitual changes necessary to improve fitness. And wearable fitness devices are growing in popularity, according to ABI Research, which found revenues in the wearable-connected-device market will grow to more than $6 billion in 2018 — and HR departments are paying attention. Should wearable fitness devices have a role in your wellness plan? Wellness consultants say yes. “There is a definite role for wearable technology in corporate wellness programs,” says Fran Melmed of Context Communication, which focuses on wellness communication. “Today, the majority of employers are particularly interested in the trackers that analyze steps, nutrition and sleep.” These devices represent a valuable source of data for employers and employees, Melmed says. Employers can use the information to get a larger picture about the state …

CONTINUE READING