Every week, KHN finds longer stories for you to enjoy. This week’s picks include stories about being healthy for the new year, medical implants, water, covid and more.
The New York Times: Diets Make You Feel Bad. Try training your brain to eat healthy instead
Here’s a New Year’s resolution you can keep: Stop dieting and start tasting your food instead. This may sound surprising advice, but there is mounting scientific evidence to suggest that diets do not work. Research shows that restricting food makes you want to eat more. In the long run, dieting can be counterproductive, spurring the body’s defenses to survive, slowing the metabolism, and making it more difficult to lose weight in the future. (Parker Bob, 1/3)
CBS News: Why is sugar an addiction and how you can eliminate it from your diet this year, according to an expert
Whether you’re trying “dry January” or setting a new diet or exercise goal, breaking old habits in the new year can be tough. For those looking to stop eating added sugars, they may already be dealing with addiction. Physiologically, it’s as addictive as cocaine — sugar is,” writer and health expert Susan Pierce Thompson told CBS’s Ann Marie Green Wednesday. “So, people are literally trapped in a physiological addiction. Brain scans are very clear about that.” While health officials urge Americans to limit sugar intake, Thompson argues that giving up the highly processed, refined chemical can have some of the toughest addictions to battle. (Powell, 1/5)
The Wall Street Journal: The new way to maximize exercise? spandex weighted
Why lift heavy weights to get strong when you can improve your cardio gains, or even build steel forearms while simply washing the dishes? This is the premise behind a new class of workout clothing that strategically distributes extra mass across your body through weights sewn into the fabric. (Matthew 1/4)
The New York Times: Are you considering orthopedic or joint surgery? You may not need it
Are you considering orthopedic or joint surgery? In many cases, surgery may not be more effective than options such as exercise, physical therapy, and drug therapy. Hip and knee replacements, carpal tunnel syndrome surgery, and other orthopedic procedures are among the most common elective surgeries performed today, but they involve cost, risks, and sometimes weeks or months of recovery. A review found that many of these surgeries are not supported by evidence from randomized trials. The review concluded that even when surgery has been shown to be effective, it may not be much better than non-surgical care. (Bacalar, 1/4)
The Washington Post: Home remedies can be helpful for some cases, experts say
Maralyn Fisher, 76, a retired shop owner living in Manhattan, has periodic bouts of nausea. Whenever she feels the discomfort coming, she puts a ginger pill in her mouth and waits for it to subside. Almost always do. “I don’t like taking a lot of standard medication,” says Fisher, who keeps the candy in her bag and by her bed. “I believe in it because it works.” Fisher is among the millions of Americans who use so-called home remedies, a description frequently used interchangeably with “complementary” or “alternative” medications to distinguish them from Western practices, which often rely on doctor visits and traditional medicines. (Cimons, 1/2)
The Washington Post: Researchers say science fiction types of medical implants will soon become a reality
For decades, doctors have integrated pacemakers, cochlear implants, and defibrillators into their patients’ bodies. Recently, consumers have started tracking their heart rates and the number of steps they take with watches, bracelets, cell phones, and other wearables. Researchers and clinicians are now dreaming of more ways to integrate these technologies, to move consumer-led screens inside the body. (Rosine 1/1)
The Washington Post: What burial did Desmond Tutu request instead of cremation?
The ashes of revered anti-apartheid leader Desmond Tutu were buried on Sunday in a private ceremony at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa. The Anglican archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who died on December 26 at the age of 90, had requested that his funeral not be euphoric and that his body not be burned in flames. Instead, Tutu reportedly requested water, or alkaline hydrolysis, a water-based process that is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cremation. (burger, 1/2)
The Washington Post: In reference to the danger to fresh water, scientists say we need to put the brakes on road salt
Each winter, de-icing salts — sodium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride — battle icy roads across the country. The effort is epic in scope: Hundreds of millions of gallons of brine are sprayed onto roads and billions of pounds of rock salt are sprinkled on their surfaces every year. This may lead to safer roads, but it has a real impact on the planet. In a review in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a group of environmental scientists looked at the dangers of salts making driving safer. De-icing salts end up in freshwater bodies, pollute lakes and streams and accumulate in wetlands. (Blackmore, 1/2)
Wall Street Journal: For users with disabilities, paid apps lag behind free apps in accessibility, report shows
According to a new report, many of the most popular paid smartphone apps are less accessible for people with certain disabilities than the best free-to-download apps. Digital agency Diamond, which makes accessible products for its customers, has conducted manual and automated testing of 20 leading paid apps and 20 popular free apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store as of October 2021. (Alcantara, 12/20)
NPR: The scientist who identified Omicron was saddened by the world’s reaction
When Botswana scientists saw the sequences, they were shocked. Four international travelers tested positive for COVID-19 on November 11, four days after entering the country. But when the cases were genetically sequenced, as the genetic code of the virus is analyzed to look for worrisome changes, scientists discovered a variant they had never seen before. They soon alerted the world to what became known as the Omicron variable. (Schreiber, 12/16)
This is part of the KHN Morning Brief, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.