Did you know your employers have a vested interest in your waistline? A new study finds that overweight people rack up more dough in medical bills than skinny-minis -- an extra $1,500 per year. And that fattens companies' insurance premiums.

Corporate benefits such as fitness education classes and gym memberships have become increasingly common. For example, a program called LifeSteps, offered by General Motors(NYSE: GM) and the United Auto Workers, gives health and fitness advice to employees, retirees, and family members. Classes include "How to Throw a Deer Onto the Hood of Your Truck Without Throwing Your Back Out," according to Charlie Estey, who oversees the program. Finally, something for the kids.

Confused by the combination of Motley Fool benefits, which include health club discounts, free pizza day, and a bowl of chocolate bars in the kitchen, the FOOL 50 was up 1% today.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Microsoft's Got Worms

Oh, Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT). When you aren't fighting anti-trust lawsuits or announcing a minuscule dividend payout, your focus on security is being called into question.

Well, the company can't blame the naysayers for this one. The nasty "SQL Slammer" worm that made mud pie out of Internet traffic last weekend targeted a known vulnerability in Microsoft's SQL Server database software.

The software giant posted a patch to address the problem in June, so it says it bears no responsibility for the havoc wreaked on individual machines because folks didn't install the fix. Security experts, though, say the Dow component's "Trustworthy Computing" initiative is a farce.

The worm wriggled its way around the globe, just as Microsoft celebrated a year of increased focus on the security of its products. Nice anniversary present, eh? Turns out, some of its own computers crashed thanks to the Slammer, too.

Well, if Microsoft, itself, can't successfully patch its own servers, then how can it rightly expect everyone else to do so? Yes, the patch had been available since June, but because of the extensive testing sometimes needed for installation, the fix clearly wasn't applied as broadly as necessary. And when the company issues patch after patch after patch, it can get a bit complicated, even for the most competent network engineer.

Some experts also argue Microsoft should focus its security efforts on putting out software with fewer flaws and holes to begin with, rather than issuing fixes and patches, and then acting indignant when something like this happens. What a novel idea.

Hopefully, the software giant will learn from being bitten by this worm. No longer can it claim innocence and point haughtily at all the "other" computer companies for not taking its advice to patch their servers. Ironically, the company is now itself just another enterprise marred by a Microsoft flaw.

Quote of Note

"The greatest blunders, like the thickest ropes, are often compounded of a multitude of strands. Take the rope apart, separate it into the small threads that compose it, and you can break them one by one. You think, 'That is all there was!' But twist them all together and you have something tremendous." -- Victor Hugo, French author

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Oh Mickey, You're So Fine

The market has turned to Disney(NYSE: DIS) for a glimmer of hope that not all is lost in the entertainment sector. Between AOL Time Warner's(NYSE: AOL) record $98.7 billion loss for 2002 and Vivendi's(NYSE: V) eventual fire sale, the industry hoped to catch a break. Would the Big Cheese pull through?

It did. Disney posted a 6% gain in fiscal first-quarter revenue, while earnings before one-time charges rose from $0.15 a share last year to $0.17 a share this time around. Every segment, save for the company's troubled consumer products division, delivered top-line gains, while the big winner, in terms of operating profits, was the company's theme park division.

Then again, a 20% climb in operating earnings at the park and resorts comes on the heels of sparse attendance figures in the December 2001 quarter. Travel-shy tourists stayed away from the iconic destinations like a double feature of Disney's Treasure Planet and The Hot Chick. But, they're coming back... slowly.

The company predicts healthy bottom-line growth over the next two years, with profit gains between 25% and 35%. Although, that's coming off the current sandbagged base of lackluster earnings. Still, it's taking steps in the right direction.

Discussion Board of the Day: Disney

Is Disney's upbeat earnings report making you belt out your own rendition of the "Mickey Mouse March"? Will the company ever be rolling on all cylinders? Can you get "Fool" engraved on a pair of mouse ears? All this and more -- in the Disney discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Music Lovers Hear an Echo

There's something new happening in the music world that might actually help bring a reluctant record industry into the 21st century.

Six retail chains are teaming up to offer customers digital music, both in their stores and over the Internet. The six -- Best Buy(NYSE: BBY), Hastings Entertainment(Nasdaq: HAST), Tower Records, Trans World Entertainment(Nasdaq: TWMC), Virgin Entertainment, and Wherehouse Music -- will operate through a joint venture called Echo.

Why might this be revolutionary? For one, the record labels have been extraordinarily inept at offering consumers a viable alternative to Napster-like download sites, such as KaZaA, Morpheus, and WinMX. Sony(NYSE: SNE), Vivendi Universal(NYSE: V), AOL Time Warner(NYSE: AOL), EMI(NYSE: EMI), and BMG have all tried to get music lovers who want to listen to songs on their computers and MP3 players, or who want to burn their own CDs, to pay too much money for too little in return.

Echo, on the other hand, has some advantages over the labels' offerings. For one thing, consumers will be able to download music piecemeal, without a subscription. Echo will also market to consumers in stores, and it has the ability to combine traditional CDs with digital downloads in creative ways. "I might buy a Sheryl Crow album, and then get two or three more downloadable bonus tracks for free," Yankee Group analyst Michael Goodman told Forbes.

Finally, the labels face tough regulatory issues. While some have teamed up, it's not feasible for the entire industry to get together and set prices. Yet Echo, run by retailers who will set prices independently from each other, has the potential to offer music from all labels.

That brings us to this story's big catch (and you just knew there had to be one, eh?): Echo still needs to work out licensing agreements with the labels, and total success is no sure thing.

Common sense says the labels should see the potential of Echo (it can offer consumers something they might actually pay for, and it might be a partial answer to the rampant pirating on the file-swapping services) and deal in good faith. Yet the industry -- spearheaded by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) -- has been extremely reluctant to embrace common sense when it comes to this issue. Perhaps Echo will change all that.

Quick Takes

In another example of how bad things are in the chip-equipment industry, Applied Materials(Nasdaq: AMAT) today reeled in first-quarter expectations, saying orders would fall 35% from last quarter. CEO James Morgan said economic weakness and the possibility of war have caused his customers to cut back on capital expenditures.

The world's second-largest airline posted the second-largest loss in industry history today. United Airlines parent UAL(NYSE: UAL) lost $3.2 billion for all of 2002, or $53.55 per share. American Airlines'(NYSE: AMR) 2002 loss amounted to $3.5 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reports AOL Time Warner(NYSE: AOL) executives are considering selling off core assets in order to solve some financial problems. Warner Music and the company's AOL online unit are among the assets being discussed, though such talk is only at an "embryonic" stage.

The U.S. Senate, in a late-night voice vote, approved President Bush's nominee to replace Paul O'Neill as treasury secretary. John Snow will get to work Monday morning when Mr. Bush presents his budget to Congress.

In local news, the executive board of the Knothole Treehouse Club appointed 5-year-old Timmy Johnson as treasurer. Timmy won a close vote after a resounding speech that included a threat to "tell my Mom what you guys really do up here."

And Finally...

Today on Fool.com:

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim