People running on treadmills in a gym.

WHOOP and the IRS: How Tax Avoidance Helps Health

By Bobby Stroup

On December 19, WHOOP announced their flagship product (bearing the same name as the company) is now eligible for FSA and HSA spending. This news means customers might use tax deductions to purchase the “wearable” wellness device. Effectively, courtesy of Uncle Sam, Americans can now save money on trying to be like Michael Phelps and Colleen Quigley.

More than merely a discount on a fitness band, this announcement highlights larger issues within federal policymaking. The article here explores how the complexities of the tax code are intertwined with American health care.

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Happy physical education teacher talking to her students during a class at elementary school gym.

Bring Back the National School Population Fitness Survey

By Jack Becker

It’s 1955, the Cold War is heating up, and a popular magazine publishes an article titled “The Report that Shocked the President.” What could shock a seasoned leader like Dwight Eisenhower? A report about a potential missile gap? An early report on the gap between the Soviet and American space programs? Surprisingly (or, unsurprisingly, because the title of this post is a spoiler), it was the muscle gap.

In 1954, Hans Kraus and Bonnie Prudden published a study finding that 57.9% of American schoolchildren failed a minimum muscular fitness test, while only 8.7% of European schoolchildren failed the same test. The theory behind these results? Television, overprotective parents, inadequate school physical education, and an overall “plush” lifestyle in the United States.

Sound familiar? When you add in heightened concerns about screen time, it feels like nothing has changed. While modern metrics concentrate on physical activity instead of physical fitness, it’s clear that American children are still struggling. But history might offer potential solutions to this age-old problem.

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Person looking at a Fitbit watch in a Best Buy store

Reviewing Health Announcements at Google, Facebook, and Apple

By Adriana Krasniansky

Over the past several days, technology players Google, Apple, and Facebook have each reported health-related business news. In this blog post, we examine their announcements and identify emerging ethical questions in the digital health space.

On Nov. 1, Google announced plans to acquire smartwatch maker Fitbit for $2.1 billion in 2020, subject to regulatory approval. The purchase is expected to jumpstart the production of Google’s own health wearables; the company has already invested at least $40 million in wearable research, absorbing watchmaker Fossil’s R&D technology in January 2019.

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