Search the Site

Posts Tagged ‘health’

San Francisco Passes a Happy-Meal Ban

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has “passed an ordinance that will require meals to meet certain nutritional guidelines if restaurants wish to include a toy with the food purchase.”

Bad News for Me on Two Fronts

A new meta-analysis looks at past research into whether a person’s performance on basic physical functions like walking speed or ease in getting out of a chair predicts death.

Vegetables: A Salty Menace?

The three major dietary sources of sodium are grains; meat, poultry, fish, mixtures; and vegetables. Surprised? So was Dubner. The explanation lies in the daily sodium density metric.

No Vaccine? A Different Risk

Paul Offit is one of America’s most-hated scientists. He’s been called a “biostitute” for the pharmaceutical industry and been threatened with death for his advocacy of one of medicine’s greatest innovations: vaccines. In recent years, anti-vaccine sentiment has spread like, well, an epidemic, with frightening results.

Usurping the Throne

Ever since I was a child, I’ve known my father as the King of Farts. It was a matter of great pride in the family. After all, if he was the King, that made me the Prince of Farts, of course. Who wouldn’t want to be royalty?
Only recently, however, did I discover the not-so-fragrant story as to how my father became King.

Cheap and Simple Fixes, the First of Many Parts

It is fascinating to poke through history and see how often cheap and simple fixes solved problems that were routinely thought to be either unsolvable or, at best, solved by very expensive, complicated, and invasive means.

The Prom Effect?

Researchers have long puzzled over the relatively poor health and education outcomes for babies born in the winter months. Past explanations have focused on school attendance laws, vitamin D exposure, and other environmental factors, but economists Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman have found an overlooked explanation.

Feeling Better Lately?

It seems the recession may be good for your health. A new paper by Stephen Bezruchka in the Canadian Medical Association Journal confirms that economic recessions in the 20th century actually led to declines in mortality.

Why Skinny Stays in the Picture

A study by evolutionary psychologist William Lassek has concluded, perhaps not surprisingly, that the more muscular a man is, the more sexual partners he has. So why haven’t skinny, fat, or average men been wiped out of the gene pool? One reason, according to Lassek, is that men with bigger muscles have to eat more to sustain themselves and have . . .

Year-End Clearance: All Medical Myths Must Go!

Sorry, moms: it turns out that reading in low light won’t make you go blind; going hatless in the winter won’t make you freeze to death; and you could eat poinsettias all day and not be poisoned. All this holiday medical myth-busting and more is courtesy of our somber friends at the British Medical Journal (part one and part two). . . .

Do Smoking Bans Save Lives?

According to a new study, a statewide workplace smoking ban in Massachusetts may be responsible for a steep drop in heart-attack deaths since 2004. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which produced the study, says the biggest health gains came among those people the ban saved from regular exposure to second-hand smoke. The rate of heart-disease-related deaths has been cut . . .

End of Days: A Guest Post

We recently featured a Q&A with Julie Salamon, author of Hospital, and last week Julie wrote her first guest post for us. Here is her second. It touches on a subject of great interest to me, something we hope to address empirically in future writing: the cost/benefit dilemma of end-of-life medical care. End of Days A Guest Post by Julie . . .

Score a Point for Seth Roberts and the Shangri-La Diet

Earlier this week, we linked to a news article about a medical study finding that rats gained about the same amount of weight (80 grams, versus 72 grams on average) when they ate saccharine sweetened yogurt as when they ate yogurt sweetened with glucose. In both cases, the rats ate the yogurt in addition to their regular food. If I . . .

The FREAK-est Links

New company plans to stop online identity theft. (Earlier) Does discrimination start in the brain? Obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking slash your chances of living to 90. (Earlier) How do non-New Yorkers psychologically perceive New York?

Offshoring Lung Cancer?

The Wall Street Journal reports on a new World Health Organization study about cigarette smoking around the world. The Journal‘s piece includes data from Euromonitor International about the number of cigarettes sold worldwide by various manufacturers. Here are the numbers of cigarettes sold (in billions) in 2006 by Philip Morris: U.S./Canada: 184 Asia Pacific: 197 Eastern Europe: 229 Western Europe: . . .

The FREAK-est Links

The link between cannabis and cancer (Earlier) A scientific approach to tort reform What’s the optimal time of day for a psych test? (Earlier) Does junk food make prisoners more violent? (Earlier) (And earlier)

FREAK-TV: An Economic History of … Abs?

Video Today’s installment of FREAK-TV traces the history of male abs in culture and media, from the unveiling of Michelangelo’s “David” to James Dean‘s shirtless pose in Rebel Without a Cause to the Calvin Klein abs bonanza of the 1990s that made “six-packs” the norm (and turned an often-unattainable level of fitness into an anti-fat craze that continues today). Now . . .

Does Omega-3 Work Miracles?

About twice a year I go on a health kick that lasts a few weeks. Typically this involves going for one-mile runs two or three times, doing as many push-ups as I can (about eight) every night, increasing the fiber in my diet, ramping up my carrot juice consumption, and taking whatever health pill is currently in vogue. I’m right . . .

Is This the Future of Home Excercise?

It’s one man’s invention, called the Shovelglove. Here’s how he came upon it: It was a rainy Sunday. I hadn’t gone to the gym in over three months, and I was feeling painfully out of shape and antsy to do some kind of exercise. But I didn’t want to go out in the rain, and the prospect of subjecting myself . . .

Does Obesity Kill?

There is so much noise these days about obesity that it can be hard to figure out what’s important about the issue and what’s not. To try to keep track, I sometimes divide the obesity issue into three questions. 1. Why has the U.S. obesity rate risen so much? Many, many answers to this question have been offered, most of . . .

The Monkey Chow Diet

We wrote about Seth Roberts’ Shangri-La Diet in the New York Times last summer, which he has since turned into a best-selling book. Seth’s research suggested that the key to weight control was consuming flavorless calories. Adam Scott has a new diet idea: Monkey Chow. For the next week, he plans an experiment in which he consumes only Monkey Chow. . . .

Friends in High Places

As of the last few days, the friends of Freakonomics are dominating the best seller list at Amazon. The number one book is by Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz. Michael Roizen used to own the house Levitt now lives in and was a doctor at the University of Chicago; Mehmet Oz is a longtime friend of Dubner. The number three . . .

The Shangri-La Diet, Between Hard Covers

Way back when, we wrote about the Berkeley psychology Seth Roberts and his yen for self-experimentation in the realms of mood, sleep, and especially weight control. Because there was such an intense interest in his work, we asked him to guest-blog on this site, which he did, for several days. (If you want to read a complete record of Seth . . .