Setor ‘diet’ explode nos EUA com consumidores querendo perder os quilinhos pandêmicos

Brenda Olmos
No período que passou trancada no apartamento, estudando para o doutorado, Brenda Olmos ganhou 7 quilos. Foto: Ilana Panich-Linsman/The New York Times

Talvez tenha sido a pizza congelada. Ou os lanchinhos de queijo que ela mordiscava sem pensar enquanto trabalhava em casa no ano passado. Ou aqueles malditos cookies. Seja qual tenha sido a causa, Jessica Short subiu na balança nesta primavera e descobriu que estava pesando 11 quilos a mais do que antes da pandemia. “Tive de sair de casa por vários dias seguidos e percebi que nenhuma das minhas calças servia”, diz Jessica, 39 anos e moradora de LansingMichigan.

Decidida a não comprar um guarda-roupa totalmente novo, Jessica se inscreveu em seu primeiro programa de perda de peso no início de abril. Em três semanas, perdeu dois quilos e meio usando o aplicativo Noom. “Meu objetivo é perder todos os 11 quilos”, diz.

Enquanto algumas pessoas passaram o ano da pandemia criando refeições saudáveis ou fazendo exercícios por horas, muitas outras tentaram controlar a ansiedade e o tédio por meios menos saudáveis. 

Agora, à medida que o clima esquenta no Hemisfério Norte e as pessoas se aventuram a sair de casa e voltar à vida pública ou aos escritórios, muita gente está lutando para perder os quilinhos pandêmicos.

O desejo de perder esse peso é o ganho da indústria da dieta. Nas últimas semanas e meses, as empresas que vendem planos para ajudar a perder peso tiveram avanços nos negócios.

A Noom, empresa de capital fechado que oferece planos de saúde personalizados em seu aplicativo, viu seu software ser baixado quase 4 milhões de vezes nos EUA no ano passado, tornando-se um dos apps de saúde e fitness mais baixados, de acordo com a consultoria Apptopia. Da mesma maneira, a WW International, anteriormente conhecida como Weight Watchers (Vigilantes do Peso), relatou na semana passada que tinha 4,2 milhões de assinantes digitais, um salto de 16% em relação ao ano anterior.

E a Medifast, empresa de capital aberto que administra um plano de treinamento e de substituição de refeição chamado Optavia, projetou que sua receita chegaria a US$ 1,4 bilhão neste ano, o dobro de 2019. A demanda é tão alta que os clientes estão relatando atrasos em seus pedidos e escassez de alimentos populares. 

Embora o movimento da positividade corporal tenha ganhado força e grande parte da indústria da dieta tenha sido duramente atingida pela pandemia no ano passado, ela ainda é uma máquina de US$ 61 bilhões que atrai milhões de americanos a cada ano, de acordo com a empresa de análises Research and Markets.

Muitas dessas empresas evitam usar a temida palavra de cinco letras – dieta – para descrever o que vendem, preferindo usar expressões mais atuais como “saúde” e “bem-estar” para promover seus programas.

É claro que muitas pessoas engordaram durante a pandemia. Um pequeno estudo descobriu que as pessoas em quarentena ganharam cerca de 300 gramas a cada dez dias. Se elas continuassem vivendo como se estivessem em lockdown, elas poderiam ter engordado 9 quilos ao longo do ano, concluíram os autores do estudo, que foi publicado em março na revista Jama Network Open.

Ainda assim, os críticos de muitos dos programas populares de perda de peso observam que, embora as pessoas provavelmente percam peso se seguirem as rígidas diretrizes dos planos de substituição de refeições, para muitas esse peso acabará voltando. “Se você tem um casamento para ir em duas semanas, um programa de substituição de refeição pode ser útil”, diz Susan Roberts, professora de nutrição da Tufts University. “O problema é que isso não ensina as pessoas a comer depois que o programa termina, então é bastante comum que elas recuperem o peso.”

Susan desenvolveu sua própria dieta para perder peso, chamada dieta Instinct, que visa a treinar o cérebro das pessoas em relação à comida. Ela afirma que os participantes de seu plano conseguem perder peso reduzindo a fome e os impulsos prejudiciais à saúde.

Apesar das críticas, muitas pessoas que estão saindo da pandemia e se preparando para voltar ao mundo vêm recorrendo à indústria da dieta. Depois de passar grande parte de 2020 enfurnada no apartamento, estudando para o doutorado, Brenda Olmos, 31 anos, percebeu que o fluxo constante de lanchinhos e pedidos de entrega resultou em 7 quilos a mais. 

No início de abril, ela se inscreveu no plano Optavia e perdeu 2 quilos. “Tinha tentado o jejum intermitente e não conseguia parar de pensar em comida”, disse. “Agora, estou me dando seis meses para perder 13 quilos”.

Fonte: Julie Cresswell, The New York Times/Estadão, 15 de maio de 2021. TRADUÇÃO DE RENATO PRELORENTZOU

China’s Street Vendor Push Ignites a Debate: How Rich Is It?

Jialun Deng

Xie Yiyi lost her job last Friday, making the 22-year-old Beijing resident one of millions of young people in China left unmoored and shaken by the coronavirus.

So that same day, heeding the advice of one of China’s top leaders, she decided to open a barbecue stall.

Many people in China would say selling spicy mutton skewers was a step down for an American-educated young person like Ms. Xie — or, really, for anybody in the world’s second-largest economy. Street vendors are seen by many Chinese people as embarrassing eyesores from the country’s past, when it was still emerging from extreme poverty. In many Chinese cities, uniformed neighborhood rules enforcers called chengguan regularly evict and assault sidewalk sellers of fake jewelry, cheap clothes and spicy snacks.

But Li Keqiang, China’s premier, had publicly called for the country’s jobless to ignite a “stall economy” to get the country’s derailed economy back on track. In the process, he laid bare China’s diverging narratives after the coronavirus epidemic. Is China an increasingly middle-class country, represented by the skyscrapers and tech campuses in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen? Or is much of it still poor and backward, a country of roadside stalls in back alleys?

Ms. Xie, who graduated last year from the University of California, Irvine, knew the matter was far from settled. She loaded her digital shopping cart with a grill, charcoal, skewers and cases of Arctic Ocean, the classic Beijing orange soda, in hopes that the barbecue business could tide her over until a better job came along. But she waited to see whether Beijing city officials would go along with Mr. Li’s call before she clicked “buy.”

A night market in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday.
A night market in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday.Credit…Getty Images

They didn’t, in a rare sign of disagreement among Chinese officialdom. A commentary in the official Beijing Daily newspaper ran a long list of the problems stalls could create, labeling them “unhygienic and uncivilized.”

“The higher-ups are saying different things,” Ms. Xie said. “So better be cautious about placing the order.”

Mr. Li set off the conversation about China’s prosperity last month, when he held his annual news conference at the end of the country’s legislative session and directly addressed the job losses from the country’s fight against the coronavirus. He praised the young people who, in the early days of China’s emergence from the Cultural Revolution, opened tea stalls.

Then Mr. Li pointed out that some 600 million Chinese, or 43 percent of the population, earn a monthly income of only about $140. He cited the example of a migrant worker in his 50s who couldn’t find a job after working in cities for 30 years.

Underscoring his focus on China’s less successful, Mr. Li visited street vendors days later in Shandong Province. “The country is made up of the people,” he told them. “Only when the people are OK will the country be OK.”

Mr. Li’s comments defied the Communist Party’s usual narrative of untrammeled prosperity, which helped legitimize its rule. Initially, when the income figures spread through the Chinese internet, some social media users — unaware of their source — called the numbers fake and accused hostile forces of trying to undermine China’s success.

A vendor at the Wuhan night market.
A vendor at the Wuhan night market.Credit…Getty Images

Many middle-class urban dwellers have reasons not to believe the numbers. China’s biggest cities have made it much harder for low-income, low-skilled people to live there, virtually erasing them from the official narrative. For example, the Beijing municipal government coined the term “low-end population” when it drove many of those people out three years ago by tearing down the housing, markets and restaurants where they lived and worked.

Mr. Li, who has long been overshadowed by Xi Jinping, the country’s paramount leader, is an unlikely person to poke holes in the party’s grand narrative of success. The last time Mr. Li inspired so much buzz was five years ago when he advocated innovation and entrepreneurship, helping to trigger a frenzy of investment in venture funds and start-ups.

That was when China was feeling ambitious. Now it is facing what might be its biggest challenges since the Mao era. Its economy has slowed sharply because of its coronavirus containment efforts. While the government says unemployment is at 6 percent, other estimates put it at 20 percent. Other countries are increasingly hostile, a development some Chinese elites attribute to Mr. Xi’s premature positioning of the country as a superpower.

So “stall economy” became a buzzword, and Mr. Li became the talk of the Chinese internet. Some social media users praised him for daring to speak the truth. Many said he cared about the well-being of ordinary people, a subtle dig at the rest of the party leadership, suggesting it cares more about meeting arbitrary goals and building its power abroad.

Cities rushed to lure vendors to the streets. A few even set recruiting quotas for the chengguan, meaning that the people who once harassed and beat vendors now had to support them. An economist estimated that 50 million jobs could be created if the government gave more space to the vendors and farmers selling their produce.

Chinese media chimed in with stories about street vendors who make thousands of dollars a month and can afford luxury cars. They cited famous entrepreneurs like Jack Ma, co-founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, who peddled handicrafts on the street to pay the rent for his first business. Alibaba and its rival JD.com rolled out microloans and other efforts to support street vendors. Share prices of “stall economy stocks” — shopping center operators, outdoor-umbrella manufacturers and automakers making pickup trucks that can be converted into mobile stores — surged.

A food stall in Beijing’s central business district.
A food stall in Beijing’s central business district.Credit…Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Li’s comments also inspired gallows humor. Young professionals debated what they could sell now that their career prospects had dimmed. Maybe artisanal coffee shop from a bicycle-driven cart? Roadside legal services? Photoshopped images of Captain America peddling smartphone screen protectors, Wonder Woman pulling a cold noodle cart and President Trump selling vegetables circulated on the Chinese internet.

Then the backlash set in. Some commentaries about the income figures disappeared. On the WeChat social media platform, an article that Mr. Li wrote in 1997 about a childhood teacher was deleted for violating regulations. The stall economy stocks fell to earth.

Official media began reining in the enthusiasm. “The stall economy isn’t appropriate for first-tier cities,” said China Central Television, the state broadcaster, referring to relatively wealthy cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Allowing the stall economy to make a comeback in those cities is “equivalent of going backward in decades overnight,” it wrote. “It’s a departure from high-quality growth.”

For any Chinese person who has ever been to an open market or seen street vendors bullied by local officials, it should be pretty obvious that operating a stall is a tough way to make a living. Only for those with few skills or other means to scrape by could call it an option. Even those who took the idea seriously most likely saw street vending for educated workers as only temporary, like Ms. Xie in Beijing.

But it was a necessary conversation for a country still figuring out how to provide for its people. The government set a goal of creating nine million new jobs this year, down from 11 million last year. That will not be enough for this year’s 8.7 million college graduates plus the many workers and professionals who lost jobs in the sharp economic downturn.

It also raises the question of whether China will forget again the hundreds of millions of low-wage workers who are still trying to scrape by despite their country’s wealth.

“When they need you, you’re an entrepreneur,” goes a widely circulated social media quip on the uncertainty of being a stall operator. “When they don’t need you, you will be an eyesore to the city’s appearance.”

Source: Li Yuan, The New York Times Company, June 11, 2020

The New York Times: Threat of Military Action Rattles Brazil as Virus Deaths Surge

Gravediggers in São Paulo. President Jair Bolsonaro brushed aside the threat of the coronavirus even as the number of people dying surged.
Gravediggers in São Paulo. President Jair Bolsonaro brushed aside the threat of the coronavirus even as the number of people dying surged.Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

The threats are swirling around the president: Deaths from the virus in Brazil each day are now the highest in the world. Investors are fleeing the country. The president, his sons and his allies are under investigation. His election could even be overturned.

The crisis has grown so intense that some of the most powerful military figures in Brazil are warning of instability — sending shudders that they could take over and dismantle Latin America’s largest democracy.

But far from denouncing the idea, President Jair Bolsonaro’s inner circle seems to be clamoring for the military to step into the fray. In fact, one of the president’s sons, a congressman who has praised the country’s former military dictatorship, said a similar institutional break was inevitable.

“It’s no longer an opinion about if, but when this will happen,” the president’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, recently told a prominent Brazilian blogger, warning of what he called a looming “rupture” in Brazil’s democratic system.

The standoff traces an ominous arc for Brazil, a country that shook off military rule in the 1980s and built a thriving democracy in its wake. Within two decades, Brazil had come to represent the energy and promise of the developing world, with a booming economy and the right to host the World Cup and the Olympics.

Since then, its economy has faltered, corruption scandals have toppled or ensnared many of its leaders and an impeachment battle ousted its powerful leftist government.

Mr. Bolsonaro, a former Army captain, stepped into this tumult, celebrating the country’s military past and promising to restore order. But he has come under blistering criticism for downplaying the virus, sabotaging isolation measures and cavalierly presiding over one of the highest death tolls in the world, saying, “We are sorry for all the dead, but that’s everyone’s destiny.”

He, his family and his supporters are also being pursued on allegations like abuse of power, corruption and illegally spreading misinformation. Yet nearly half of his cabinet is made up of military figures, and now, critics contend, he is relying on the threat of military intervention to ward off challenges to his presidency.

A retired general in Mr. Bolsonaro’s cabinet, Augusto Heleno, the national security adviser, shook the nation in May when he warned of “unpredictable consequences for national stability” after the Supreme Court let an inquiry into Mr. Bolsonaro’s supporters move forward.

Another general, the defense minister, swiftly endorsed the provocation, while Mr. Bolsonaro lashed out as well, suggesting that the police ignore the “absurd orders” of the court.

“This is destabilizing the country, right during a pandemic,” said Sergio Moro, the former justice minister who broke with Mr. Bolsonaro in April, said of the threats of military intervention. Though he considers military action unlikely, he added: “It is reprehensible. The country does not need to be living with this type of threat.”

Political leaders and analysts agree that military intervention seems unlikely. Even so, the possibility is hanging over the nation’s democratic institutions, which are scrutinizing Mr. Bolsonaro and his family on multiple fronts.

Two of the president’s sons are under investigation for the kind of disinformation and defamation campaigns that helped get their father elected in 2018, and late last month the federal police raided several properties tied to influential allies of Mr. Bolsonaro. The Superior Electoral Court, which oversees elections, has the authority to use evidence from the inquiry to annul the election and remove Mr. Bolsonaro from office.

Two of his sons are also under investigation for corruption, and the Supreme Court recently authorized an inquiry into allegations that Mr. Bolsonaro tried to replace the federal police chief in order to protect his family and friends.

Even the president’s handling of the pandemic is under legal threat: On Monday, a Supreme Court justice ordered the government to stop suppressing data on Brazil’s surging death toll.

The threats of military intervention have incited a broad backlash, even from some senior members of the armed forces. And General Heleno, the national security adviser, later said that he did not support a coup, contending he was misunderstood.

Still, military and civilian officials in Mr. Bolsonaro’s own administration — as well as allies of the president in Congress, evangelical megachurches and military associations — say the maneuvering is aimed at heading off any attempts by Brazil’s legislative and judicial institutions to oust the president.

Silas Malafaia, a right-wing televangelist close to Mr. Bolsonaro, insisted that the president had not told him of any plan for military intervention. Still, he argued that the armed forces had the right to prevent courts from overstepping or even ousting the president.

“That’s not a coup,” Mr. Malafaia said. “It’s instilling order where there is disorder.”

The pro-Bolsonaro officials issuing such threats are generally not referring to the way coups have often been carried out in Latin America, with the armed forces toppling a civilian leader to install one of their own.

Instead, they seem to be urging something similar to what happened in Peru in 1992, when Alberto Fujimori, the right-wing leader, used the armed forces to dissolve Congress, reorganize the judiciary and hunt down political opponents.

Mr. Bolsonaro, who still draws support from about 30 percent of Brazilians, already casts himself as the embodiment of Brazilian military culture, and portrays the armed forces as ethical and efficient managers.

Brazil’s armed forces already exercise exceptional influence in his government. Military figures, including retired four-star generals, account for 10 of 22 ministers in the cabinet. The government has named nearly 2,900 other active-duty members of the military to administration posts.

The clout of Brazil’s armed forces was on display when congressional leaders mostly exempted them from a 2019 pensions overhaul, allowing members of the military to avoid the deeper benefits cuts endured by other parts of society.

Mr. Bolsonaro’s pandemic response showcased the military’s rising profile in his government — as well the risks for leaders of the armed forces when Brazilians start ascribing blame as things go badly awry.

Building on Brazil’s public health successes in fighting previous epidemics, the Health Ministry pushed early on in the crisis for social distancing measures to slow the virus’s spread.

Even Mr. Bolsonaro seemed on board with the approach, dissuading followers from attending street rallies. Then he abruptly changed his stance, fist-bumping supporters outside his palace.

Supporters of Mr. Bolsonaro took to the street to show their support as he faced investigations.
Supporters of Mr. Bolsonaro took to the street to show their support as he faced investigations.Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

Mr. Bolsonaro also shifted leadership of the pandemic response to another general, Walter Souza Braga Netto, his chief of staff.

Sidelined and balking at expanding the use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug promoted by Mr. Bolsonaro that has not been proven effective against the virus, the health minister was replaced. His successor lasted only a few weeks until he resigned, replaced by an army general, Eduardo Pazuello.

One former official in the health ministry said the abrupt changes created a sense of chaos within the agency, resulting in weeks of dysfunction and paralysis at the most crucial time — when the country should have been fighting the uncontrolled spread of the virus.

Separately, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, the health minister at the start of the pandemic, said that Mr. Bolsonaro prized economic stability over health priorities, preferring a military figure at the ministry’s helm.

“He needed someone like a general or a colonel who saw the ministry as a steppingstone, a way to get a promotion for bravery,” Mr. Mandetta said.

Brazil now has more than 700,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, second only to the United States. At least 37,000 people have died from the virus in Brazil as of Tuesday, with the death count often climbing by more than 1,000 a day.

The upheaval in Brazil is leading investors to rush for the exits. Capital flight is reaching levels unseen since the 1990s. The World Bank expects the economy to contract 8 percent this year. Car production, a once-thriving pillar of the economy, has plummeted to its lowest level since the 1950s.

Protests against Mr. Bolsonaro have spread despite the quarantine.
Protests against Mr. Bolsonaro have spread despite the quarantine.Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

Carlos Fico, a historian at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro who studies the Brazilian military, said the growing power of the armed forces carried the risk of revealing their incompetence in crucial areas.

“They think that bombastic declarations will make things happen as in the military realm, where an order is given and those of lower rank obey,” Mr. Fico said.

But with the military now guiding the pandemic response, Mr. Fico added, “They’re running the risk of being blamed by society for what happens next.”

Top allies of Mr. Bolsonaro insist that the armed forces have no plans for a coup. “Not one four-star general is in favor of military intervention,” said Sostenes Cavalcante, a right-wing congressman.

But in the same breath, Mr. Cavalcante argued that something must be done to curb the power of the Supreme Court. He contended that the talk of a coup by Mr. Bolsonaro’s son was merely a way of pressuring the judiciary.

“You could interpret that as the Supreme Court having overstepped its authority,” Mr. Cavalcante said.

At the same time, some officials within Mr. Bolsonaro’s administration are actively examining scenarios in which the military might intervene. One military official in the government who was not authorized to speak publicly said an intervention remained off the radar for now, but that certain moves by the judiciary, such as ordering a search of Mr. Bolsonaro’s palace as part of an investigation, could change that.

Brazilian officers at a military ceremony to mark the anniversary of the dictatorship that began on March 31, 1964.
Brazilian officers at a military ceremony to mark the anniversary of the dictatorship that began on March 31, 1964.Credit…Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Similarly, the official added, any potential annulment of the 2018 election by a judge would also be considered unacceptable, because it would remove not only Mr. Bolsonaro, but also his running mate and vice president, Hamilton Mourão, a retired general.

Mr. Mourão has repeatedly asserted that no kind of military takeover is under consideration. But even the debate over military intervention is raising concern about the resilience of Brazil’s democratic institutions and a return to chronic political instability, with constant military meddling.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former civilian president who was exiled during the military dictatorship, said he didn’t think a coup was imminent. But he worried that Mr. Bolsonaro’s intimidation tactics could intensify.

“How do democracies die? You don’t need a military coup,” Mr. Cardoso, 88, who has already urged Mr. Bolsonaro to resign, told reporters. “The president himself can seek extraordinary powers, and he can take them.”

Source: The New York Times, By Simon Romero, Letícia Casado and Manuela Andreoni. Published June 10, 2020Updated June 13, 2020, 11:09 a.m. ET

Simon Romero is a national correspondent based in Albuquerque, covering immigration and other issues. He was previously the bureau chief in Brazil and in Caracas, Venezuela, and reported on the global energy industry from Houston. @viaSimonRomero. A version of this article appears in print on June 10, 2020, Section A, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: As Scandals Mount, Brazil’s Leader Hints at a Military Takeover.

Inteligência Competitiva Empresas: Apple anuncia app de notícias

O Apple News permitirá a postagem de notícias dentro do aplicativo para a redução no tempo de carregamento do link

O Apple News permitirá a postagem de notícias dentro do aplicativo para a redução no tempo de carregamento do link. Crédito: Divulgação

A Apple liberou nesta semana uma versão para teste de seu novo aplicativo de notícias. Veículos de qualquer tamanho poderão disponibilizar seu conteúdo no app, que chega ao mercado consumidor em setembro, com conteúdo de parceiros como ESPN, the New York Times, the Atlantic e Bloomberg.

Os Estados Unidos serão os primeiros a receber o app, que poderá ter seus filtros refinados pelos interesses do usuário.

Um dos diferenciais prometidos pelo aplicativo da Apple é que as ferramentas de edição para a publicação na plataforma poderão ser obtidas por companhias de mídia menores e até mesmo blogs independentes. De acordo com o site Ad Age, o aplicativo traz para Apple uma maior variedade de conteúdo ao mesmo tempo que disponibiliza ao anunciante mais espaços de comercialização de mídia.

Em fevereiro, o Facebook anunciou que o Instant Articles, sua ferramenta de notícias para o aplicativo de dispositivos móveis, será disponibilizado para todos os veículos de mídia em abril. No mesmo mês o Google anunciou ferramenta semelhante, que será disponibilizada para veículos parceiros.

As ferramentas permitem que o conteúdo seja postado diretamente nelas. O objetivo principal é diminuir o tempo de espera para a abertura de um link postado dentro do site de um publisher. Uma crítica feita ao modelo é que os veículos perdem o controle do conteúdo postado diretamente no aplicativo.

Fonte: Meio e Mensagem, 17 de Março de 2016 16:16