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Holiday wish list must-haves: Part IV

Here's what the experts at Consumer Reports want for the holidays

Published: November 2012

The experts at Consumer Reports test and write about hundreds of products each year, including coffeemakers and 3D TVs, mowers and refrigerators, treadmills and toilets, and much more. Given their hands-on experience in the labs, we asked our technicians and editors what they covet for the holidays, putting price and practicality aside.

This week: Health. Previously: Electronic gizmos and gadgets, appliances and home, and cars of all kinds.

Peter Anzalone, Senior Project Leader, Fitness
An effective, nontoxic treatment for arthritis

I've been physically active all my life, and playing hard is important to me. I even exercise as part of my job, since I test fitness equipment here at Consumer Reports, including treadmills and ellipticals. But in the last decade, I’ve had to cut back on some demanding physical activities and sports because of lower-back pain associated with osteoarthritis. I'm not a big proponent of taking daily doses of pain relievers because of the long-term side effects. So my wish is for a non-toxic but effective treatment for osteoarthritis to ease my pain so I can romp around again like an exuberant teenager. Since I don't expect my wish to be granted any time soon, as a gift to myself I'll continue to be diligent in the gym doing my interval, strength, stability, and flexibility training to help limit some of these undesirable effects of aging.

See our advice for treating lower-back pain and arthritis.

Sue Byrne, Web Senior Editor, Health Editorial
CoreBody Reformer

Ever since I saw the Nautilus CoreBody Reformer, I was intrigued. It didn't look like any exercise device I already owned. So I signed up to be one of the Consumer Reports testers. I don’t know how it will do on our official tests, but I really liked it. It comes with an exercise DVD, so you can follow the moves in the privacy of your living room. I liked that it included yoga and Pilates moves, and can be used in a lot of different ways so it doesn't get boring. I know how important it is to squeeze exercise into your day, so I think this would be a fun way without having to trudge into a gym and getting all sweaty in front of a bunch of strangers. The only thing holding me back is the cost—it's $250. Maybe if I can find a coupon. . . .

See our advice for getting in shape on the cheap, including stability balls and hand weights.

Lisa Gill, Editor, Prescription Drugs, Health Ratings Center
Relief for Americans with medical bills they can’t afford

Flat-screen TVs, e-book readers, and tablets may be what most people want this holiday season. But earlier this year, in two separate surveys, we learned that many people have had to cut back on such purchases, and even groceries, to pay for their medical care. In other cases, they had to take potentially dangerous measures like not filling their prescriptions or not taking their drugs as often as they should. In fact, paying for health care was the No. 1 financial problem cited in our surveys. So let's look to 2013 to be the year of lower-cost medications and reduced medical expenses, so people can afford the gifts they really want.

See our advice on how to save money on medication.

Rich Handel, Assistant Project Leader, Fitness
Full-suspension mountain bike

My wish for the holidays is a brand new, full-suspension, carbon-frame, 29-inch wheel mountain bike. I now have a 20-year-old bike with a rigid frame, which is fine for smooth trails. But for serious mountain biking on bumpy trails, I take a beating because my current bike lacks suspension. At the end of a ride, my fillings are loose! I recently got a new road bike, so now I need a new mountain bike. Hopefully Santa will take care of me this year.

See our buying guide and Ratings for bicycles.

Joel Keehn, Senior Editor, Health Ratings Center
Maverick ET 732 Meat Thermometer

I love smoked ribs. But I don’t like them overcooked or underone—or getting sick from contaminated food. So my wish: A Maverick ET 732 Wireless Remote 2-Probe Thermometer for my home BBQ rig. We haven’t tested this thermometer, and some Maverick models we did look at in the past haven’t done so great in our Ratings. But this thermometer has some features I really like. First, it has two probes, so you can take the temperature of the meat and the smoker itself at the same time. That way, you can cook low and slow, the way ribs like it. Best of all, it comes with a remote that you can clip on your belt so you can walk around, drink a beer, read a book, and still keep track of your BBQ's temperature. And you can set an alarm, so if it gets too hot or too cold, you know. I want one in the worst way.

See our buying guide and Ratings for meat thermometers.

Jamie Kopf, Senior Associate Editor, Health Editorial

Smoothies, yogurt, cereal, salads . . . fresh blueberries are a tasty, antioxidant-packed addition to so many dishes, and they're delicious on their own, too. After recently working on a story about processed foods that have fake blueberries in them, I'm all the more pumped for the real thing. I know this wish will be difficult to fulfill, especially in the Northeast in the dead of winter. But a girl can dream! (Oh, and also please—a pocket mirror so I can check my teeth for blue bits afterwards. They get everywhere.)

See our advice on why it's best to get nutrients from real food, not pills.

Marvin Lipman, M.D., Chief Medical Adviser, Health Editorial
Health reform

I'd like three things for the holidays:
1. A single-payer national health program—because it's the only workable solution to our unique and unfair health system.
2. A ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs—because it encourages the unnecessary use of medications and is an excuse for disease mongering.
3. Repeal of the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act—because it provides legal protection for ineffective and possibly harmful products.

See our guide to health care reform and our reports on drug safety and dangerous supplements.

Courtney Pennicooke, Product Analyst, Safety & Health
Octane Fitness Q37ci Elliptical

Since I've been promising myself to up my level of fitness I figure that the Octane Fitness Q37ci Elliptical can help me get those "6-pack abs" I'm aiming for. The Q37ci claims it’s "the only elliptical machine that offers both a cardio and strength workout in one." Built on a solid center-drive platform, which takes up less floor space than your average front or rear-drive machines, the Q37ci offers the standard features found on most ellipticals, like multiple exercise programs, multiple resistance levels, and wireless heart rate, plus the innovative Cross Circuit+ feature that allows the user to alternate between on-the-machine cardio workouts and off-the-machine strength exercises. The kit includes side-steps, three power bands with resistance levels ranging from beginner to advanced, one set of extendable handle grips, an instructional power band guide, and free workout DVD. At a price tag of $3,100 the Octane Q37ci is out of my league but I can wish . . . can't I?

See our buying guide and Ratings for ellipticals.

Ronni Sandroff, Editorial Director, Health & Family
A functional Congress

A U.S. Congress that works to solve our national problems rather than spending most of their time fighting with each other. American consumers deserve more than that.

See our guides to Medicare and health care reform.

Alex Willen, Assistant Project Leader, Recreational Products
New exercise-product infomercials

I want a bunch of new infomercial exercise products in my stocking that have dramatic claims about how they can revolutionize your workout. Then I want to make informative, fun videos with Consumer Reports Video Producer Theresa Panetta so we can tell consumers whether they should buy them—or not.

Watch videos we've made in the past on the Belly Burner and the Ab Coaster.

Gayle Williams, Deputy Editor, Health & Family
Long-lasting cookware

I really want a new set of cookware. And I want it to be safe and as durable and last as long as my mother's Revereware, which is about 40 years old. (I still have some pieces of her set that I continue to use!)

See our buying guide and Ratings for cookware.

Marion Wilson-Spencer, Product Analyst, Safety & Health
Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker

The Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker ($99) tracks your daily activity in great detail. That includes steps taken, stairs climbed, distance traveled, intensity of the activity level, and calories burned—even when cleaning the house. It even tracks your sleep, monitoring when you fall asleep and how many times you wake up throughout the night.

See our buying guide and Ratings for pedometers and heart-rate monitors.

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