Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

March 27, 2009


NY Times - Americans yearn to be young. So it is little wonder that Real Age, which promises to help shave years off your age, has become one of the most popular tests on the Internet. According to Real Age, more than 27 million people have taken the test, which asks 150 or so questions about lifestyle and family history to assign a "biological age," how young or old your habits make you. Then, Real Age makes recommendations on how to get "younger," like taking multivitamins, eating breakfast and flossing your teeth. Nine million of those people have signed up to become Real Age members.

But while Real Age promotes better living through non-medical solutions, the site makes its money by selling better living through drugs. Pharmaceutical companies pay Real Age to compile test results of Real Age members and send them marketing messages by e-mail. The drug companies can even use Real Age answers to find people who show symptoms of a disease - and begin sending them messages about it even before the people have received a diagnosis from their doctors. While few people would fill out a detailed questionnaire about their health and hand it over to a drug company looking for suggestions for new medications, that is essentially what Real Age is doing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked out pretty quickly that it was a scam, since it told me I'm in trouble and need to do more for myself than just be a non-smoking, non-drinking, non-risk-taking vegetarian who exercises regularly. I couldn't completely decide whether to laugh or be affronted.

March 30, 2009 6:12 PM  

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