Longer Looks: Urban Obesity; A Hypochondriac’s Nightmare
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The Complicated Problem Of Urban Obesity
Cities are good for your waistline, or so the argument goes. One prominent study published in 2014 in the Journal of Transport & Health found that places with more compact street networks and intersections—namely, dense cities—are associated with lower levels of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and asthma. “It might not be common for people to explicitly contemplate health when selecting a place to live, but this research indicates it is worth considering,” the scientists concluded. But panning out to all cities, and not just the uber-dense ones, the health picture gets a lot more complicated. (Aarian Marshall, 4/1)
The Truth About WebMD, A Hypochondriac's Nightmare And Big Pharma's Dream
WebMD is the most popular source of health information in the US, and is likely to dominate your Google search results for almost any medical question you have. According to its editorial policy, WebMD promises to empower patients and health professionals with "objective, trustworthy, and accurate health information." But is WebMD actually trustworthy? (Julia Belluz, 4/5)
The Huffington Post:
Drugs You Don't Need For Disorders You Don't Have
One evening in the late summer of 2015, Lisa Schwartz was watching television at her Vermont home when an ad for a sleeping pill called Belsomra appeared on the screen. Schwartz, a longtime professor at Dartmouth Medical College, usually muted commercials, but she watched this one closely: a 90-second spot featuring a young woman and two slightly cute, slightly creepy fuzzy animals in the shape of the words “sleep” and “wake.” (Jonathan Cohn, 3/31)
The NFL’s Shoddy Science Means We Know Even Less About Concussions
Last week, The New York Times published an investigation that said an NFL committee assembled in 1994 to research head injuries had omitted crucial data from its analyses, which were published in a series of scientific journal articles starting in 2003. It’s the latest evidence that the NFL’s scientific endeavors on concussions have been tilted in the league’s favor. These revelations undermine years of research into the effect that playing in the NFL has on the brain. They don’t necessarily provide evidence that football is dangerous for the brain, though. Science is hard like that. (Christie Aschwanden, 4/1)
How the White House Went Easy on Drug Crime—But Not for Immigrants
U.S. immigration policy, like its drug policy, has been unforgiving of drug dealers and drug users for a long time. Laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s, at the height of the War on Drugs, dictate that any drug offense (other than a single conviction for possessing a small amount of marijuana) is a deportable offense, even for a lawful permanent resident. Any drug sale or potential sale, no matter how small, is considered an “aggravated felony.” In such cases, the judge must order deportation. The judge has no leeway to consider the immigrant’s personal life or the circumstances of the crime. Even convictions that are pardoned or expunged at the state level can still count as convictions under immigration law at the federal level. (Grace Meng, 4/5)
What Happens When There’s Sewage In The Water?
The “Will they be ready?!” media hand-wringing is the opening band to nearly every Olympic main attraction. Beijing battled suffocating air pollution. Sochi had too much sun, then too few hotel rooms. But this time, the Olympic Cassandras’ warnings seem particularly distressing: Athletes might be sailing and swimming through raw sewage, ruining matches and landing in hospitals as a result. (Olga Khazan, 3/31)