Jennifer Barrett

Stories by Jennifer Barrett

  • Dieting for Dollars

    Can employers put you on a diet? No, but they can make it more expensive to be fat. New ways companies are monitoring employee health habits and rewarding those who shape up.
  • The Risks of Snoring

    Snoring isn't just annoying, it's linked to serious health problems. A look at the risks—and the remedies.
  • Why Americans Are Going Broke

    The new economic stimulus plan encourages consumers to spend money-but isn't that what got so many into trouble in the first place?
  • House to Hold Vytorin Hearings

    Did Vytorin's makers intentionally suppress unfavorable trial results? Rep. Bart Stupak will hold hearings to try to find out.
  • Making Over Middle-Aged Men

    Why more men--yes, men--are turning to cosmetic procedures to hide the effects of aging.
  • 2007 AIDS Developments

    Though a potential vaccine failed in trials this year, there are other promising options for lowering HIV transmission rates.
  • How the Economy Makes Us Fat

    A new book explains how the obesity epidemic has been shaped by economics, and what we can do to reverse the trend.
  • Bigger Breasts for Boomers

    More older women are getting breast surgery than ever before, in the hopes of reclaiming their pre-pregnancy figures.
  • Rescue Efforts in Bangladesh

    As the death toll climbs in Bangladesh, aid groups brace themselves for the challenges ahead.
  • Why You Sleep on Thanksgiving

    Sure, we know the holiday leaves us stuffed. But it's not just the extra calories that make us groggy.
  • Health: Put Out The Flame

    For years smokers trying to kick the habit have had three choices: taking an antidepressant like Zyban, switching to nicotine replacements like patches or gum, or going cold turkey. Now the Food and Drug Administration has approved another option. Pfizer's varenicline, marketed as Chantix, targets areas of the brain that are affected by nicotine, easing withdrawal symptoms and blocking the effects of inhaled cigarette smoke (so if a patient falters and lights up a cigarette, any pleasurable effects would be muted). The prescription-only drug could be available as early as the fall; its price has not yet been determined. The FDA recommends a 12-week course for the tablet, taken daily starting one week before the smoker's "quit date" target (potential side effects include nausea, headaches and constipation). In clinical trials, more than one in five smokers using Chantix remained smoke-free for at least one year--"a significant improvement over current medications," says Thomas J....
  • Hard to the Core

    David Burnes was on a walking tour of Madrid last fall when the low-grade discomfort he'd been feeling in his back for weeks morphed into molar-grinding pain. Burnes, 50, realized he needed serious medical attention and cut his trip short. Back in the United States, he was diagnosed with a ruptured disc and, after rejecting surgery, was sent for intensive physical therapy. Burnes, the CEO of a Massachusetts software firm, was unimpressed at first by the stretching, crunches and leg lifts he had to do. "It seemed like the stuff girls do," says Burnes, who biked, skied and worked out with weights before his back problems slowed him down. But after 20 minutes of sweating and grunting, Burnes had a revelation. "These instructors," he admits with a laugh, "were kicking my butt."Actually, they were strengthening his core muscles. And what Burnes and millions of other boomers are discovering is that a strong torso, though hard-earned, is essential for long-term fitness. For decades,...
  • Cutting Edge

    Stuart Forbes celebrated his 60th birthday on April 11. A week later, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. "It was quite a month," says Forbes, who runs a consulting firm outside Boston. When biopsies confirmed he had an aggressive form of the disease, Forbes started looking for a surgeon. The first recommended a traditional radical prostatectomy, which would require a 20- to 25-centimeter incision and at least two days in the hospital. Forbes was also warned that he would likely lose almost all the nerves on the left side of the prostate, which could permanently affect his sexual function. "I thought, 'I need to really look at all my options'," says Forbes. He considered high-intensity focused ultrasound ablation, a relatively new technology that's been used in Europe. But it's expensive and would require transatlantic trips. He looked into various forms of radiation, as well as proton-beam therapy. Then, in June, his girlfriend took him to a symposium on robotic surgery. "I saw...
  • Quick Read

    I've Seen a Lot of Famous People Naked, and They've Got Nothing on You! by Jake SteinfeldBette Midler, Priscilla Presley, Harrison Ford--as a former fitness trainer to the stars, Steinfeld saw them all "naked." Well, stripped of their makeup and celebrity, at least. And he realized that, hey, they're just like us! Everybody's got dreams, he writes. The difference is people like Steinfeld and Steven Spielberg (who wrote the foreword) made theirs come true. A college drop-out, Steinfeld went on to run a multimillion-dollar fitness company, Body by Jake. His message: if I can do it, you can do it. The self-proclaimed "ultimate street-smart entrepreneur" doesn't advocate skipping school, but he does focus on real-world lessons, drawing from his own experiences and those of the famous friends he's met along the way.The Running of the Bulls: Inside the Cutthroat Race From Wharton to Wall Street by Nicole RidgwayThe University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School is the country's oldest...

    The day Merck withdrew the painkiller Vioxx last year, amid concerns it increased heart-attack and stroke risks, the company lost $25 billion in market value. Now a Texas jury has awarded Carol Ernst, whose husband died after taking Vioxx, $253.5 million in the first liability trial. Merck's stock plummeted nearly 8 percent the day of the verdict; it's down 40 percent this year.With more than 4,200 lawsuits pending, analysts have speculated that liability could top $18 billion. But the Ernst verdict won't be the end of Merck. The company, which did not respond to NEWSWEEK's queries, issued a statement that it plans to appeal. Even if it didn't, Texas limits punitive damages to $1.6 million, meaning the total award shouldn't be more than $26 million. Merck made $11 billion in sales in the first half of this year.There's been speculation of a merger with Schering-Plough, already a joint-venture partner, to help absorb the hit. But vastly different corporate cultures make that unlikely...
  • Extreme Measures

    One boy's struggle to lose weight and the new surgical procedure he hopes can save his life
  • Calling Abe Lincoln

    Lawyer Mario Cuomo, a three-term Democratic governor of New York, has long been an admirer of Abraham Lincoln. He's certainly not the only one. In his new book, "Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever" (Harcourt), which will be published next week, Cuomo says that politicians from both parties--from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush--call themselves fans of Lincoln and of the former president's vision for a united America. In fact, writes Cuomo, in the nearly 140 years since Lincoln was assassinated, he has become "a measuring stick for presidential performance." So how does President Bush stack up? It may be too soon to tell. But Cuomo, a longtime Democrat and supporter of presumed presidential challenger John Kerry, believes that Lincoln would be disappointed. Kerry doesn't get off the hook, either. Cuomo argues that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have offered a unifying vision of what America is and can be. "Despite all the wealth and grandness so apparent in...
  • 'Significant Adverse Effects'

    John Graham used to joke that his doctor would go bankrupt if he relied on him for income. The longtime carpenter, who was also trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT), was so seldom sick that he can't recall taking anything stronger than an occasional aspirin for a headache. But that was before the September 11 attacks.Now Graham carries a bag full of medications around with him each day. He takes 17 different drugs for ailments ranging from asthma to chronic infections, and sees his doctor so often that he's had to ask the receptionist to call and remind him of upcoming appointments so he can keep track.Graham, whose office was blocks from the World Trade Center, was able to get down to the Twin Towers so quickly after the first plane struck that he was standing across the street from the North Tower when the second plane hit. Because of his unusual combination of medical and carpentry skills, Graham ended up staying at the site for more than nine months helping out,...
  • No Time For Any Wrinkles

    Alisa Kauffman has been practicing dentistry for nearly two decades, but some new patients still mistake the petite, 44-year-old New Yorker for a dental-school student. "I tell them it's just the Botox," she says, but the popular treatment, which paralyzes the muscles that form wrinkles, is actually just one weapon in Kauffman's anti-aging arsenal. She began applying Retin-A (trans-retinoic acid) daily to wrinkle-prone areas of her face at 28, well before the vitamin-A derivative became widely accepted as a topical treatment for fine lines. At 40, she added more potent products. Besides periodic Botox shots for her forehead and eyes, every few months she gets injections of Restylane to smooth the skin by her mouth. Kauffman also regularly undergoes intense pulse-light (IPL) treatments--laserlike pulses of high-intensity light that penetrate the skin--to get rid of a sprinkle of sun spots on her face. "I am very vigilant," says Kauffman, an attractive redhead. "I try to take care of...
  • Quick Read

    Women Make the Best Salesmen by Marion Luna BremAt 30, the author was newly divorced, jobless with two kids--and with a tumor in her breast she'd been told would kill her within five years. Six years later she'd not only beaten her cancer but risen up the ranks from salesman to CEO of a Texas auto dealership. Brem's book offers insights into her rise to the top. In her eyes, we're all selling ourselves in one way or another every day. Brem argues women often do a better job of it because of their social skills and intuition.Testosterone by Christopher ByronEven before this business columnist's new book was released, the publisher was fielding calls from Jack Welch's lawyer--and that was just for the cover. The next 402 pages should really interest them. Byron, whose last book was the best-seller "Martha Inc.," is known for dishing. In his tales of "CEOs gone wild," even the mightiest corporate giants--Welch, Al Dunlap, Dennis Kozlowski and Ron Perelman--succumb to the most basic...
  • Money: Cash With A Catch

    Strapped for cash but nowhere near your own bank? Think twice before you stop at the nearest ATM. Not only can the bank that owns the machine charge you a fee, but your own bank may make you pay for using a rival's machine or a nonbank ATM.A recent New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) survey found that New Yorkers got clipped by as much as $4.75 to get money from another bank's machine. (Nationwide, the average is roughly $3.) Worse, you don't see the surcharge until you receive your bank statement in the mail. "Customers aren't warned about those fees," says Ed Mierzwinski, consumer-program director of the National Association of State PIRGs. Some tips: look for banks, like Washington Mutual, that don't charge noncustomers; use your debit card at stores that give you cash back (usually there's no fee). And when you do go to your bank, take out more cash. That way you won't get caught short.
  • Time For Tea

    The Republic of Tea doesn't advertise. But it has found a clever way to get the word out about its products. In 2001, chairman Ron Rubin and COO Stuart Avery Gold wrote "Success @ Life: How to Catch and Live Your Dream," a blend of business advice and spiritual teachings. It was no best seller, but it did well enough to spur a series--the latest of which, "Tiger Heart, Tiger Mind: How to Empower Your Dream," comes out this month. The books are guides for "zentrepreneurs" (the duo's term for 21st-century entrepreneurs who have both a business and a life). But the books also serve to enhance the tea brand, which they say is part of a balanced lifestyle. "They're amazing marketing tools," says Brian Keating, founder of Sage Group International, a Seattle market-research group.And many consumers are buying into that lifestyle. Rubin says business has quadrupled in the past five years to more than $10 million in annual sales. That's small compared with Celestial Seasonings, which boasted...
  • Caffeine And Nicotine

    Actor Roberto Benigni was 34 when he filmed his part in "Coffee and Cigarettes." He'll be 51 when the movie finally hits U.S. screens this Friday. It took director Jim Jarmusch 17 years to finish the film, which began as a short skit for "Saturday Night Live" and evolved into a series of 11 vignettes (the first with Benigni) that revolve around conversations between different characters as they smoke cigarettes or sip coffee. The full-length film made its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival last fall then screened to a sold-out crowd at the Toronto International Film Festival and again at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this month. Starting May 14, it will be released in selected theaters around the country. In between filming scenes for "Coffee and Cigarettes" over the years, Jarmusch has kept busy. He's made at least a half-dozen other movies--including "Dead Man" with Johnny Depp and "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" with Forest Whitaker--and built up...