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Top 7 Stories on State of Health in 2013

Just like that, another year is coming to a close. And what a year it’s been on the health beat. I’m going to wager that you can guess what the top news story of the year was on this (or any) health blog. Technically, several Obamacare stories were Top 10 most-viewed posts on this site, but since one of them was from last year, I’m just giving all Affordable Care Act stories one slot.

Why is Mayor Bloomberg a ‘Nanny’?

State of Health has followed the soda tax issue closely. Richmond voters will decide in November whether their city will be the first in California to levy a soda tax. The City Council voted to put the measure on the ballot only after hours of heated public debate.

Critics of the tax had many objections, not least of which was concern about an over-reaching government. So when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed limiting portion sizes on sugary drinks, I wasn’t surprised when opponents of the idea labelled it a “nanny state” tactic. Then came the full page ad in the New York Times from the Center for Consumer Freedom. I shrugged and confess that I was a little amused.

But then I read Heather Gehlert’s post from the Berkeley Media Studies Group blog and I rethought my blasé reaction.

The Greatest Health Risk to Children? No, It’s Not Drugs

Nearly half of people surveyed in a poll released today say that an unhealthy diet combined with lack of physical activity are the greatest health risks facing California children today.

Almost three in four respondents — 73 percent — said prevention efforts, while starting with the family, must extend to the broader community, including health care providers, schools and community organizations, and yes, food and beverage companies and fast food restaurants.

Sugar Is A Risk for Heart Disease, Too

We’ve written lots lately about the potentially addictive qualities of sugar and the public policy efforts to limit consumption.

Now comes a new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which finds that Americans who consumed the most sugar — about a quarter of their daily calories — were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who limited their sugar intake to 7 percent of their total calories.

Open-Campus Policies Eat Away at School Nutrition

At lunchtime, hundreds of Berkeley High School students rush off campus, leaving behind healthy meals served in the cafeteria. Many of them head to Bongo Burger, Top Dog and other joints selling high-fat, high-sugar alternatives.

Six miles away at Oakland High School, the cafeteria is mobbed. There are not enough seats for everyone, so some students eat lunch outside on picnic tables while others eat in classrooms. No one goes off campus to pick up food from Wingstop or the AMPM convenience store.

Beverage Companies Blur Line Between Philanthropy & Marketing

If you were watching the Superbowl in 2010 when the Packers beat the Steelers, you may have noticed that Pepsi commercials were absent from the ads that were vying for the attention of millions of viewers. Instead, Pepsi announced Pepsi Refresh, a project to take the $20 million dollars it would have spent on Superbowl advertising and give it to a good cause. They used a vast social media campaign to involve the public in voting for which cause would get the money.