October 2, 2023; Washington, D.C. – On October 3, NPR launches "Body Electric," a special six-part interactive series investigating the relationship between our technology and our bodies – and how we can improve it.
TED Radio Hour host Manoush Zomorodi explores how our bodies are adapting and changing to meet the demands of the Information Age, including why, within a generation, half the world's population will be nearsighted and why the rate of young people with Type 2 diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years.
In an era when 92% of jobs require digital skills and nearly 85% of jobs are sedentary, "Body Electric" explores what it would take to shift a culture oriented towards sitting and looking at screens.
As part of the series, NPR is working with Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Columbia researcher Keith Diaz,PhD, and colleagues think they have found the least amount of movement needed to offset the harms of our sedentary habits. But, will their research pan out in the real world? Podcast listeners will have the opportunity to participate in answering this question. The results will be shared in the series finale on November 7, 2023. The deadline to sign up is Sunday, October 8, 2023, at 11:59pm ET.
More information on the study can be found: HERE
Zomorodi looks back at how evolving economies and tools — from the invention of the chair to the personal computer — morphed human anatomy over the centuries. She visits the first myopia treatment clinic in the U.S., a center founded by a Chinese ophthalmologist who struggled to convince her American colleagues that screen time contributed to nearsightedness and that doctors can do more than just prescribe glasses. Throughout, Zomorodi speaks with neuroscientists and psychologists who are mapping new connections between the body and brain that can help explain why so many of us feel physically AND mentally overloaded all the time.
New episodes of "Body Electric" will drop on Tuesdays in NPR's TED Radio Hour podcast feed. Morning Edition will also air a weekly segment highlighting "Body Electric."
NPR's new series Body Electric wants to fix the relationship between tech and health
Listen to the trailer here.
"It feels like we're in a silent battle with our devices and they are slowly draining us," said Zomorodi. "I've done public media projects where we've gotten tens of thousands of listeners to rethink their tech habits, but bringing together listeners and collaborating with Columbia as part of an official scientific study is a dream come true. I can't wait to see if their research can work outside the lab because so many of us are over the exhausting daily cycle of type-tap-collapse."
"This innovative and uplifting series brings NPR's journalistic rigor together with real solutions that can make our lives better as we adapt to the exponential growth of tech in our daily lives," said Anya Grundmann, NPR's SVP for Programming and Audience Development. "There's no better guide for this work than Manoush Zomorodi, veteran tech reporter, podcaster and host of the TED Radio Hour."
"Working with Manoush and the team has provided an amazing opportunity to test our science in the real world," said Keith Diaz, PhD, the Florence Irving Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. "Conducting a study of thousands of people across the country would typically take us years to do. With this uniquely interactive series, we will complete the next phase of our research in a month. This will allow us to rapidly advance and fast-track the science. Importantly, the listeners and their real-world experiences will drive our next steps and future directions as we move towards solutions to combating the health harms of a sedentary lifestyle. So it's a really cool way for listeners to actively engage with the series and become part of the story and the science."
To hear bonus episodes of "Body Electric," subscribe to TED Radio Hour+ at plus.npr.org/ted.
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