Ten Stories at the Center of Attention in 2016

After a year of dispensing a new story from ConscienHealth every day before 7 am, we have the luxury of stepping back to see what captured your attention. You are a diverse group with diverse interests: research, clinical care, policy, advocacy, and personal health.

But these ten stories reached across your diverse interests to become the most-read stories of 2016. Thanks for taking your time to read what we write for you.

1. The Biggest Loser. Who knew that reality TV would be the source of 2016’s biggest news? Not only did it give us an extraordinary new president, it gave us fascinating new insight into obesity. The insight comes from a study of metabolic adaptation in Biggest Loser contestants. That study gave rise to the #1 most-read story of this year on ConscienHealth. Our initial report on the study also ranked among the stories you read most this year.

2. Dietary Supplements. The dietary supplement industry has a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde personality. People who’ve had bariatric surgery need good dietary supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies. Reputable companies meet this need. But then, less reputable companies are also selling “weight loss miracles” in a pill. Those “miracles” are not just a scam, but a hazard to health. Our report on a study of liver toxicity from dietary supplements captured your attention.

3. Rethinking Energy Balance. At OAC’s YWM2016 convention, Steve Blair presented a provocative take-down of unsubstantiated nonsense about energy balance. Our readers, with an insatiable desire to separate obesity facts from fiction, ate it up.

4. Taxing Obesity. This was a breakout year for proposals to tax sugar-sweetened beverages in the U.S. Looking for facts on this subject, our readers kept going back to a 2014 reflection on the pros and cons of taxing obesity.

5. 57 Varieties of Obesity. Our report on Lee Kaplan’s opening presentation for the 2016 Blackburn Course in Obesity Medicine captured your attention. The captivating idea is that obesity is really a collection of many different diseases, not just one. And months later, Gina Kolata reported on this perspective in the New York Times.

6. Healthy Food. Two related stories on claims about supposedly healthy food landed on our list of 2016’s most read stories. We wrote in July about health claims for food and public confusion that results. We also wrote about a case in point: veggie chips that deliver more calories, salt, and fat than French fries while wearing a health halo.

7. The Systemic Disease of Obesity. Insights from the Genotype-Tissue Expression Project are contributing to the understanding of obesity as a systemic disease. Our report on those insights attracted thousands of readers.

8. Picturing Obesity. Typical illustrations of obesity have long been insulting images of headless bellies. We reported on the OAC’s new bank of more realistic and respectful images that went live in September. Our readers responded and we’re seeing these images spread a better view of obesity in real life.

9. Aspire Assist. When FDA approved this new gastric drain device for obesity treatment, the visceral “yuck” response was paired with derisive humor. In our report, we pointed out that the device works and some patients have found good results where nothing else has worked. We await the long-term data.

10. Sweeteners. Our post on a myth-busting presentation on sweeteners from the annual meeting of the AADE rounds out the top ten most-read stories of 2016. Alan Barclay and Claudia Shwide-Slavin gave a concise tour of science and fiction about this sweet stuff that worries the Puritans among us.

Center, photograph © Aftab Uzzaman / flickr

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December 19, 2016