First in Family!
The Village of Morton and City of Washington finished first and third, respectively, in WalletHub’s annual Best Cities for Illinois Families list, a comparison of 162 Illinois cities across 21 categories, including the percentage of families with young children, divorce rates, median family income and housing affordability. Learn more about the family-friendly rankings at wallethub.com.
Best Cities for Illinois Families
- Lake in the Hills
BMI on the Hook
It’s simple to measure: your weight divided by height squared (kg/m2). And for years, that’s been a large part of its appeal. BMI, or Body Mass Index, has long served as a convenient health marker for screenings, assessments and employer wellness programs—the higher your BMI, the higher your health risks; therefore, the higher your premium. But a recent study by UCLA researchers demonstrates this isn’t always the case. In comparing more than 40,000 BMIs to those individuals’ respective blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, blood glucose, insulin resistance and C-reactive protein levels, researchers found that half of those in the “overweight” category (BMI: 25-29) scored well on the individual measures, while 30 percent of those with a “normal” BMI scored as “unhealthy.” The research suggests new definitions of “healthy” should extend beyond traditional labels of “skinny” and “fat.”
Trending: Fit Wear
Wearable devices are among the biggest fitness trends of 2016. Motivational, fun and even fashionable, they’re everywhere and come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular brands and styles.
- Jawbone produces the UPmove, UP2, UP3 and UP4 fitness trackers. Each keeps track of steps taken, calories burned, hours of sleep and other activity.
- Fitbit offers the Zip and One activity trackers; the Flex, Charge, Alta and Charge HR wristbands, the Blaze and Surge watches, as well as the Aria, a smart scale that tracks more than just body weight.
- Garmin offers an extensive suite of wearable devices—from running and hiking to triathlon training and basic activity tracking, there’s something for everyone.
- The Microsoft Band smartwatch monitors heart rate, exercise, calories burned and sleep quality, with options to receive email alerts and calendar notifications.
- The MOOV NOW does more than track activities and calories—it offers real-time audio coaching to correct form, minimize injury and help push your limits.
- Misfit offers the Shine and Flash activity and sleep monitors; the Bolt Smart Bulb, a wireless color-changing lightbulb that connects to your smart devices; and the Ray, a jewelry-like activity tracker. The company promises to change the way wearables are viewed with the Swarovski Activity Crystal, a fashionable activity tracker.
- The Xiaomi Mi Band is a fitness tracker available at a low price point that can monitor your every move with its military-grade battery.
- Mondaine, a Swiss watch company, now offers sleek and discreet fitness trackers that double as normal watches.
- Withings offers the Activité watch, Go fitness tracker, Pulse Ox and other health-tracking technologies, including a blood pressure monitor, baby monitor and a smart scale.
By increasing the speed and ability to recall words in memory and attention tests, hearing aids improve brain function in individuals with hearing loss, according to a recent study at The University of Texas at El Paso. Nearly 20 million Americans over the age of 45 are affected by hearing loss, but only 20 percent of people who actually need hearing aids wear them.
From Non-Smoking to No-Tipping
We live in an age in which new trends fizzle out as quickly as they gain popularity, but one effort, long in the making, appears to be finding a footing in the American restaurant industry. A backlash against the practice of tipping has been gaining ground nationwide since a significant New York restaurateur, among others, announced the implementation of a “no tips” policy at 14 of his restaurants by the end of 2016. Last November, Joe’s Crab Shack announced it would become the first national chain to eliminate tipping, testing the new policy at more than a dozen locations, including Peoria.
The rationale is that if servers are less reliant on tips and have a more stable income, they can offer more attention to customer service. Hourly wages would rise, and those costs would be passed on to customers—but they shouldn’t pay any more than they would have before, with tip included. And with a sizeable boost in hourly wages, managers hope to reduce the turnover rate for restaurant workers.
But Americans may not be on board with the no-tipping “revolution”: according to a Horizon Media poll, 81 percent do not want to eliminate tipping. They see it as a way to reward good service, and many worry that wait staff will become less attentive to their needs without the potential reward.
Like most major changes, the elimination of tipping faces an uphill battle, primarily because most Americans aren’t used to any other way. Those who have traveled or lived in Europe, however, know that tipping is not expected there; instead, most establishments include a “service charge” on the customer’s bill. To those who see this as a fad, recall that once upon a time, non-smoking restaurants were viewed the same way.
Take the Pledge… Back ’em up!
Most people save a second copy of their important files—family photos, home videos, emails and other documents—on an external drive or somewhere on the Internet. That way, if one device fails, those files can be easily retrieved from a second location. To this end, March 31st has been designated World Backup Day— a day for people to spread awareness about the increasing role of data in our lives and the importance of regular backups.
Have you backed up your important files? Consider that 30 percent of people have never done so, while 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute, and one in 10 computers is infected with viruses each month. Don’t be a fool—take the World Backup Day Pledge at worldbackupday.com—but more importantly, follow through!
Buried in Debt
A recent poll conducted by The New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that some 20 percent of health-insured people under the age of 65 still have problems paying their medical bills. According to the Times, while the Affordable Care Act has protected many Americans from high health costs by requiring insurance plans to be more comprehensive, it’s also allowed significant increases in deductibles, which “can create a cascade of financial troubles for the many households living paycheck to paycheck.” Those facing this issue report a wide range of sacrifices over the past year, including:
- Delaying vacations or major household purchases (77%);
- Spending less on food, clothing and basic household items (75%);
- Using up most or all their savings (63%);
- Taking an extra job or working more hours (42%);
- Increasing their credit card debt (38%);
- Borrowing money from family or friends (37%);
- Changing their living situation (14%); and
- Seeking the aid of a charity (11%).
According to Kaiser, these percentages are as large as—or even larger than—those among the uninsured. Source: kff.org
Willing to Launch
Nearly one in five firms—18 percent—has tested Windows 10 in the first six months since its launch last July, according to research by professional IT network Spiceworks. By contrast, just nine percent of companies had tested the Windows 8 OS at the same point after its release in 2012.