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Harvard Finds Cooks Serve Better Food When They Can See Diners

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Look­ing for the most fla­vor­ful and fas­tid­i­ous dining-out expe­ri­ence? Try to make eye con­tact with your chef before plac­ing your order.

A Har­vard research project recently found that cooks who were able to observe their guests dished out markedly bet­ter meals than when cus­tomers remained anony­mous to them.

The find­ings were culled after Har­vard Busi­ness School doc­toral stu­dent Tami Kim and Chia-Jung Tsay, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don, set up four suc­ces­sive exper­i­ments in a work­ing cafe­te­ria over a two-week period.

In the first, din­ers and cooks couldn’t view one another; in the sec­ond, the din­ers could see the cooks; in the third, the cooks could see the din­ers; and in the fourth, both the din­ers and the cooks were vis­i­ble to one another,” stated the research. Fol­low­ing each meal, din­ers could rate their experience.

Due to the noted lim­i­ta­tions of the project, the researchers acknowl­edged that much more and deeper study is necessary.

Kim and Tsay found that cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion increased by 10 per­cent when the cook could see the guests in the din­ing area.

But even more strik­ing, when cus­tomers and cooks both could see one another, sat­is­fac­tion went up 17.3 per­cent, and ser­vice was 13.2 per­cent faster,” stated the research. “Trans­parency between cus­tomers and providers seems to really improve service.”

Kim and Tsay attrib­uted the improved expe­ri­ence to chefs feel­ing more moti­vated and inspired by see­ing patrons. Still, not all restau­rants should begin break­ing down kitchen walls just yet.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


The Skinny on Nestlé's New Exercise in a Bottle Project

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Swiss food and bev­er­age giant Nestlé is work­ing on devel­op­ing the lazy person’s holy grail: an edi­ble prod­uct that replaces exer­cise — pro­vid­ing at least some of the benefits.

But it will be a while before the mag­i­cal potion gets approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion, let alone hits the shelves of your neigh­bor­hood gro­cery store.

Ide­ally, we’ll be able to develop prod­ucts that will help pro­mote and aug­ment the effects of exer­cise,” said Kei Sakamoto, who heads the dia­betes and cir­ca­dian rhythms depart­ment at the Nestlé Insti­tute of Health Sci­ences in Switzerland.

Specif­i­cally, Nestlé is work­ing on a prod­uct that would reg­u­late AMPK, an enzyme that sci­en­tists have dubbed the “meta­bolic mas­ter switch.” The tar­get cus­tomer is some­one with dia­betes or some­one who is obese, accord­ing to the company.

Researchers at Nestlé Insti­tute of Health Sci­ences and sev­eral other insti­tu­tions found that a com­pound acts on the AMPK enzyme in mice to stop their liv­ers from pro­duc­ing fat, accord­ing to a study pub­lished in July in the jour­nal Chem­istry and Biol­ogy.

But don’t think you’re going to drink your way to a beach body.

The prod­uct won’t out­right replace exer­cise, Sakamoto said in a state­ment, explain­ing that even run-of-the-mill exer­cise has such a dynamic role that Nestlé will “never be able to mimic all those effects in a sin­gle product.”

Dr. Sil­vana Obici, an endocri­nol­o­gist at the Uni­ver­sity of Cincin­nati in Ohio who was not involved in the study and has no affil­i­a­tion with Nestlé, said it was too early to know if the find­ings in mice could be repli­cated in humans with any success.

Although I am very happy that new spe­cific com­pounds with selec­tive AMPK are com­ing to the fore­front, I can say I have guarded opti­mism,” Obici told ABC News. “It needs to be demon­strated directly and not only in tri­als but also in ani­mal mod­els of obe­sity and also in clin­i­cal trials.”

Obici said she had guarded opti­mism that a drink that affects AMPK could “rev up the metab­o­lism,” but said the drink would never fully replace eat­ing healthy and work­ing out.

As a doc­tor, I want to point out that any drug that we have at our dis­posal for weight reduc­tion and obe­sity [does] not work unless you are imple­ment­ing lifestyle changes,” she said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Generic Drug Prices Skyrocketing, Lawmakers Warn

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The prices of some com­mon generic drugs have sky­rock­eted in recent years, but the rea­sons remain murky, law­mak­ers said.

The hear­ing of the Sen­ate sub­com­mit­tee on pri­mary health and aging on Thurs­day was called after Ver­mont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mary­land Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings announced they were inves­ti­gat­ing why some generic drug prices have risen hun­dreds to thou­sands of per­cent — putting a severe strain on the pock­et­books of many peo­ple who rely on gener­ics to reduce costs com­pared to brand-name drugs.

To com­bat the ris­ing prices, Sanders said he was intro­duc­ing a bill that would require generic drug mak­ers to pay a rebate to Med­ic­aid if the cost increases faster than inflation.

The prices of more than 1,200 generic med­ica­tions increased an aver­age of 448 per­cent between July 2013 and July 2014, Sanders said dur­ing the hear­ing, cit­ing fed­eral records.

Among the drugs cited by Sanders and Cum­mings was a pop­u­lar asthma med­ica­tion, albuterol sul­fate, which increased in price over 40 fold for two tablets, from $11 to $434, between Octo­ber 2013 and April 2014, accord­ing to data from the Health­care Sup­ply Chain Asso­ci­a­tion, a trade asso­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing multi-hospital sys­tems, health care provider alliances and pur­chas­ing groups, among others.

Another drug, an antibi­otic called doxy­cy­cline hyclate, rose in price from an aver­age of $20 to $1,849 per bot­tle between Octo­ber 2013 and April 2014 — a more-than 90-fold increase — accord­ing to data from the association.

Other med­ica­tions for blood pres­sure, high cho­les­terol and heart attacks increased in price between three-fold and 40-fold, asso­ci­a­tion data showed.

Sanders and Cum­mings sent let­ters in Octo­ber to var­i­ous phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies ask­ing for com­ment about price increases and invited offi­cials from three com­pa­nies to tes­tify at Thursday’s hear­ing, but none of them agreed to attend, Sanders said.

But in a state­ment, the CEO of Generic Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Asso­ci­a­tion called the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion “misguided.”

CEO Ralph Neas said the find­ings were too nar­rowly focused on just 10 drugs “in a mar­ket­place of more than 12,000 safe, afford­able generic medicines.”

In actu­al­ity, generic drugs con­tinue to be a resound­ing suc­cess in low­er­ing health care costs and ben­e­fit­ing patients,” wrote Neas, who also noted that generic drugs saved con­sumers $239 bil­lion in 2013 over brand-name drugs, an increase of 14 per­cent from 2012.

Neas sug­gested a more com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­place and a more timely review of drug appli­ca­tions by the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion could help lower prices.

Rob Frankil, a phar­ma­cist and mem­ber of the National Com­mu­nity Phar­ma­cists Asso­ci­a­tion, tes­ti­fied that one patient accused him of price goug­ing after his heart fail­ure med­ica­tion went up from $15 to $120 for a 90-day supply.

That’s an increase of 800 [per­cent],” Frankil told the lawmakers.

A Jan­u­ary sur­vey of 1,000 NCPA mem­bers found that more than three-quarters of the phar­ma­cists reported higher prices on more than 25 generic drugs, with the prices spik­ing by 600 per­cent to 2,000 per­cent in cer­tain cases.

I’m see­ing it in real dol­lars and cents on my invoices,” Frankil said.

A patient, Carol Ann Riha, of Des Moines, Iowa, tes­ti­fied that her pre­scrip­tion costs have increased from $849 to more than $1,700 due to price increases.

How can any­one on a fixed income deal with these vagaries in the sys­tem?” Riha said in writ­ten tes­ti­mony. “You sure can’t bud­get for costs that change month-to-month. And it’s not a few pen­nies, as you can see. These are sig­nif­i­cant percentages.”

Man­isha Solanki, a phar­macy owner who was not at the hear­ing, told ABC News that he’s seen generic med­ica­tions priced sim­i­larly to their name-brand counterparts.

I’ve had peo­ple post­pone get­ting a med­ica­tion, so if they’re sup­posed to get it this week and they don’t have the funds to pay for it they’ll say, ‘Okay, let me wait a few days. Let me wait till this comes up. Let me see if I have more funds,’” Solanki said. “So we see them slowly push­ing back when they should be tak­ing it.”

Pan­elists and law­mak­ers debated at the hear­ing whether reg­u­la­tion by the FDA could be con­tribut­ing to the price hikes, but Dr. Aaron Kessel­heim of the Har­vard School of Med­i­cine said that was unlikely to be the sole reason.

These reg­u­la­tory issues have been around for a very long time, and this is a new issue so I can’t see how this is a reg­u­la­tory issue,” Kessel­heim said. “I think we all want high qual­ity, safe drugs and we want the FDA to mon­i­tor the safety of our drug sup­ply. …I see this as a mar­ket fail­ure and a bunch of indi­vid­ual mar­ket fail­ures, in some cases.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Flexibility Is Fitness' Latest Workout Craze

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — With the ever-expanding ros­ter of bou­tique fit­ness stu­dios in cities nation­wide, there had to come a time when there would be more classes than peo­ple will­ing to pay the $40-$50 drop in fee to fill them.

Yoga, barre classes, spin­ning and so much more — with so many classes to try, work­out war­riors were hav­ing a hard time com­mit­ting to just one. And so ear­lier this week came the debut of FitRe­serve, a site that allows, for one monthly mem­ber­ship fee, access to 2,000 spe­cialty classes in addi­tion to tra­di­tional gyms across New York City.

It works like this: Request an invi­ta­tion to the members-only site and wait to be approved. Pay $149 for a 10 pack or $249 for a 20 pack of classes to be used in the next 30 days.

Go online and search for classes: Mem­bers can visit the same stu­dio up to four times in one month and get access to a vari­ety of other perks like massages.

FitRe­serve is the lat­est launch in an increas­ingly commitment-phobic work­out world. Class­Pass, which launched in June 2013 in one city — New York — and has expanded to nine cities and just took it’s one mil­lionth reser­va­tion. The com­pany received $12 mil­lion in Sep­tem­ber and ear­lier this week launched Class­Pass Flex which allows users to use their mem­ber­ship while trav­el­ing to other cities.

Megan Smyth co-founder and CEO of FitRe­serve, said her busi­ness model is a win-win. Mem­bers get a dis­count on classes — more than 50 per­cent off the drop-in rate in many instances, she said — and the abil­ity to try lots of dif­fer­ent types of work­outs. Stu­dios get to fill spots in classes that would oth­er­wise be empty and show­case them­selves to a poten­tial client who might oth­er­wise have not come in.

It allows them to tar­get poten­tial cus­tomer in one place effi­ciently,” she said. For mem­bers, they “when they want and where they want to at a more acces­si­ble price point.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Foods with Flavonoids Shown to Protect Against Smog-Related Heart Disease

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Air pol­lu­tion can cause a vari­ety of seri­ous health prob­lems, includ­ing affect­ing heart functions.

So Har­vard doc­toral stu­dent Jia Zhong says that if you can’t move away, remem­ber these three words: flavonoids, flavonoids, flavonoids.

These antiox­i­dants, which can pro­tect against cell dam­age, are found in choco­late, wine, fruits and veg­eta­bles and, accord­ing to Zhong, also defend against smog-related heart dis­ease, par­tic­u­larly in older men.

Zhong and his men­tor, Dr. Andrea Bac­carelli, looked at 573 older men from the Boston area over an 11-year period and dis­cov­ered that their heart’s abil­ity to vary its rhythm was hurt when smog lev­els rose for 48 hours.

How­ever, men who con­sumed high amounts of foods loaded with flavonoids did not suf­fer the same reduc­tion of heart rate vari­abil­ity as their counterparts.

Zhong and Bac­carelli had two caveats. One is that peo­ple shouldn’t overdo it on wine and choco­late, for obvi­ous rea­sons. And sec­ondly, they could not prove a defin­i­tive cause-and-effect link between flavonoids and heart rate variability.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Jill Dillard from '19 Kids and Counting' Talks Her Natural Birth Plan

TLC(NEW YORK) — It’s four months away from the expected arrival of “Baby Dilly” in March.

But 19 Kids and Count­ing stars Der­ick, 25, and Jill Dil­lard, 23, are already get­ting ready to be the best par­ents they can be.

I am learn­ing a lot about birth,” Der­ick told Peo­ple mag­a­zine ear­lier this week. “We are doing our home­work together, and I keep read­ing new things, the med­ical aspects are fas­ci­nat­ing to me.”

Jill added about the birth plan, “We are really on the same page. The more Der­ick learns about birth, the more he feels that nat­ural child­birth makes sense. … Derick’s great at help­ing me with relax­ation, and really good and supportive.”

The cou­ple also keep a jour­nal to one day share with their son.

Also, Jill — who’s doing pre­na­tal work­outs — said, “After the hol­i­days, we’ll get started on the nursery.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Why Kourtney Kardashian Won’t Be Getting a Baby Nurse

Tim­o­thy White/ E!(LOS ANGELES) — With her third child on the way, Kourt­ney Kar­dashian will cer­tainly have her hands full, but don’t look for the real­ity star to hire any extra help.

I love doing every­thing myself at the begin­ning,” Kar­dashian, 35, told the December-January issue of Fit Preg­nancy.

I’m not get­ting a baby nurse. I take two months off and no one is allowed to bother me or talk to me about any­thing work-related, or maybe three months this time.”

Instead, the fash­ion designer and mother of daugh­ter Pene­lope Scot­land, 2, and son Mason Dash, soon to be 5, will spend the first months bond­ing with her new baby, includ­ing breast-feeding.

I nursed Mason for 14 months and Pene­lope for 16, and I loved it,” she told the mag­a­zine. “It was built-in time that the two of us could share alone every day. I didn’t have any goals or expectations.”

Kar­dashian does expect, though, to bounce back quickly after her deliv­ery, just like she did with her first two.

Both were really easy. I actu­ally pulled both babies out of me!” she told Fit Preg­nancy. “I was out of the hos­pi­tal so fast both times because I just wanted to get home. I stayed in my paja­mas for 30 days and kept the house really quiet.”

Said the busy work­ing mom, “It’s the only time I feel I have that excuse to shut every­one out and shut every­thing off. That time is a gift.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Company Creates Tiny Livers with 3-D Printer to Test Drugs

Organovo(SAN DIEGO) — A San Diego com­pany has cre­ated human liver tis­sue with a 3-D printer designed to be used by drug com­pa­nies for testing.

The feat achieved by Organovo may seem like sci­ence fic­tion but more and more researchers and sci­en­tists have been exam­in­ing how 3-D print­ers can be used to “cre­ate” human tis­sue for research purposes.

The “tiny liv­ers” are “bio­printed” with a spe­cially designed 3-D printer and are com­posed mainly of three kinds of human liver cells, the com­pany announced this week. In the­ory the tis­sue will allow drug com­pa­nies to test out new med­ica­tion on liver tis­sue before they go to human trials.

The tis­sue is tech­ni­cally too small to be called an organ but the small tis­sue will func­tion sim­i­larly to a real human liver and can live for at least 40 days, accord­ing to Organovo.

Keith Mur­phy, CEO of Organovo, said the tis­sue could be help­ful in devel­op­ing drugs.

Pharma com­pa­nies can use our bio­printed liver tis­sue to weed out toxic drugs early in drug devel­op­ment rather than after they have failed expen­sive clin­i­cal tri­als,” Mur­phy said in a statement.

Michael Renard, the company’s exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent com­mer­cial oper­a­tions, said the tis­sue is devel­oped by get­ting the cells from reg­u­lated sources, includ­ing cadav­ers, and then processed into “bio-ink.”

After being printed in a spe­cific pat­tern to mimic the make-up of a human liver, the tis­sues matures over three days before it can be used.

The main goal of pro­vid­ing a three-dimensional engi­neered human tis­sue is to have some­thing “that behaves biochemically…like a human organ,” said Renard.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio