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The Ten Most Read Stories of 2021 on ConscienHealth

Our readers amaze us. First of all, it is amazing that more than 100,000 of you come to ConscienHealth in the span of a year. But more important, you teach us by what you read and share from our site and what you pass up. So here are the top ten stories you read most in 2021. It comes with gratitude for your continued interest.

Note that if you click on any of the items below, you can open up the original post.

1. Health Misinformation

The most read story of this year was something of a surprise to us. The Maintenance Phase podcast got a glowing review from the New York Times and a number one ranking from Apple Podcasts. We also found a lot to like in it about debunking the junk science behind health fads, wellness scams, and dogmatic nutrition advice. But we did not like the mixture of important ideas with misinformation and conspiracy theories. So fans of the podcast were eager to tell us they disagreed. This became a case study in how polarizing strong opinions can be.

2. Vaccination

By any measure, vaccination for COVID-19 was one of the biggest stories of 2021. So when we wrote about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in persons with obesity, people took notice. Speculation that the vaccines would not work well in this population seems to have faded and, in our view, this is a good thing.

3. Energy In and Out

This was a big year for new insights into human metabolism. Three of our top ten posts told us that old assumptions about this subject were simply assumptions. New data is telling us that our biology, not our conscious choices, are regulating the consumption, use, and storage of energy. We note that John Speakman was a senior author on two studies that prompted these posts.

4. Metabolism Across Lifetimes

One of the things we learned about human metabolism is that it is remarkably constant through much of adulthood – from 20 to 60 years of age. The unprecedented scale and scope of the study that found this insight had people hailing it as pivotal research.

5. Intermittent Fasting

Diets may be dead, but interest in the effects of time-restricted eating is very much alive. Based solely on sharing (instead of reading), this post would have ranked even higher (at number three) on this list.

6. Vitamin D

The vitamin D fan club has long been resistant to mere data about the benefits of this seemingly magical vitamin. But data says it’s not so magical, not for COVID. Nonetheless, the fan club persists.

7. Semaglutide

The launch of semaglutide (Wegovy) was hailed as a game changer for obesity care because it brings a higher level of effectiveness to obesity medicine. Judging by demand that is outstripping supply, the game change may be well underway.

8. Rethinking the Biggest Loser

This is the third story about human metabolism that grabbed your attention this year and it’s remarkable because it came so late in the year (just last week). Yet in a short time, it scored high enough in readership to take a spot on this list ahead of many other stories that were available for much longer.

9. The Corporate Wellness Scam

Corporate wellness is a $53 billion business that seems to have an entrenched position in employee benefit plans. The only problem is that facts and data tell us that these programs don’t benefit employees.

10. Random Assignment That Wasn’t Random, a Registration That Wasn’t Registered

This is a story of a study that burned us because we presumed peer review would have caught such obvious errors and precluded publication. Not only did this one sneak through, but it also appears to be resistant to retraction.

Interior with a Girl Reading, painting by Henri Matisse / WikiArt

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December 27, 2021