Popular website Realage.com boasts that over 27 million people have taken their online quiz. The questionnaire asks about 150 questions relating to lifestyle and family history to try to assign you a biological age. Then the site happily offers advice on how to be and feel younger. It suggests things like taking vitamins, flossing your teeth and exercise. Sounds innocent and harmless, but what visitors at this site don’t know is that after you fill out the questionnaire, Real Age then sells your information to pharmaceutical companies. These drug companies now loaded with private information about you then often send you emails promoting their drugs. It would hard to find people willing to take the time to fill out a lengthy questionnaire for a drug company just so that same drug company could turn around and try to sell you their drugs. However it appears that millions are happy to spend the time to find out their biological age and get free advice on how to live longer. Would as many people still visit the site if they knew the truth? Would you? Americans yearn to be young. So it is little wonder that RealAge, which promises to help shave years off your age, has become one of the most popular tests on the Internet. According to RealAge, 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, RealAge 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 RealAge members.
But while RealAge promotes better living through nonmedical solutions, the site makes its money by selling better living through drugs.
Pharmaceutical companies pay RealAge to compile test results of RealAge members and send them marketing messages by e-mail. The drug companies can even use RealAge 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 RealAge is doing.