Junkfood Science: Banana bread diet

October 31, 2008

Banana bread diet

Remember Google Health? Sure you do. We were invited to type in personal information about ourselves — diet and lifestyle habits, smoking and alcohol intake, medical history, family history, screening and lab tests, prescription medications, weight, age, ethnicity, etc. — at Google Weaver online. In return, Google would offer custom “health guides” that would provide health information targeted for us by Google’s trusted advisors to help us make the right healthcare decisions. While there’s no legal protection for how that personal information about us can be used or who it can be shared with or sold to, we were told to trust Google to keep it private.

At Harvard Medical School in Boston on Tuesday, Google co-founder, Adam Bosworth (no longer at Google), revealed more insights into his newest healthcare marketing enterprise, called Keas, Inc.. He said this new online technology will offer a highly personalized web-based program “to enable people to change their lifestyles — to make them part of the solution.”

“The solution to what?”


According to Healthcare IT News, “Bosworth called obesity a ‘human disaster.’” HIT editor, Bernie Monegain, said “if he’s successful, it could mean fat Americans would become fit and healthy.”

As HIT reported, Bosworth told the audience that he had recently lost 60 pounds and plans to apply it to what he knows best: building mass market technology:

Banana bread story offers glimpse into Google co-founder's healthcare venture

Bosworth called obesity "a human disaster," It's responsible for numerous illnesses, pain and suffering and, by Bosworth's calculations, a $500 billion chunk of the nation's $2.3 trillion annual healthcare costs. In his view, it's $500 billion in avoidable costs. "Bad lifestyles have consequences," Bosworth said. "A lot more people are getting sick a lot more expensively." The people who are costing us the money are the people with two or three risk factors, like high blood pressure or diabetes, he said…

Bosworth also called for rewarding both the patient and the healthcare provider who helps keep the patient healthy. Today's healthcare system pays physicians only when they treat people who are sick. Healthcare could take a cue from the car insurance business, which rewards good drivers with lower premiums….

One reason people have not been successful at staying healthy, Bosworth said, could be illustrated by his own experience with banana bread. He was in the habit of walking to and from work everyday and picking up a piece of banana bread at the coffee shop along the way. The banana bread, it turned out, erased most of the walk's benefits by adding 500 calories…

There’s not much information at the website for Keas, yet. But Mr. Bosworth talked about the vision for his new company, created with partner George Kassabgi, on his blog last December, writing:

If you are one of the many at risk of losing your health, Keas will help you keep healthy. If you’re recovering from an illness Keas will help you to recover and stay well. If you suffer from a chronic disease Keas will help you be as well as you can be. Today no one helps you. You can’t assemble your health data to get the best care possible. Even if you can, your doctors rarely help because the system doesn’t pay them to keep you healthy. You don’t have tools that work online to help in these situations, partly because insurance doesn’t pay for them. Because of these problems people suffer both personal hardship and fear and economic deprivation, sometimes irreversibly. What is more we all pay enormous medical costs for this, and there are costs to society and to the competitiveness of our companies in lost productivity. It is our mission at Keas to fix this for you…

How many false working assumptions did you count?

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