Should a sugar study funded by Coca-Cola, Kellogg's and Hershey be trusted?

SCOTT LAFEEBack in 1822, the average American consumed 45 grams of sugar — roughly the amount found in one 12-ounce soda — every five days. These days, Americans consume 765 grams of sugar over the same time period, or about 130 pounds a year.

In recent years, the call to consume less sugar, whose overconsumption has been linked to a myriad of disease conditions, has gotten increasingly louder, but a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests nutritional guidelines recommending limited sugar intake are based on low-quality evidence and thus might be considered with some skepticism.

The Canadian researchers looked at guidelines from groups like the World Health Organization and U.S. government and found that they mostly relied upon small or uncontrolled studies, presumably making them an insufficient basis for broad guidelines.

But critics note that the Canadian study was funded by the International Life Sciences Institute, which is in turn funded by big food processors, such as Coca-Cola, Kellogg's and Hershey's. Critics suggest the latest analysis is simply another food industry attempt to protect its sugar market and sales.

Body of knowledge

An elephant brain is nearly four times heavier than the 3-pound weight of the average human brain. But the telling stat is really the ratio of brain-to-body weight. An elephant brain is just 0.15 percent of its total body weight. A human brain is 2 percent. That puts humans among the leaders in brain-to-body mass ratio, but not No.1. Ants, tree shrews, small birds and mice all have bigger brains compared to their body sizes.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of carrying groceries up flights of stairs burns 510 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.7 Big Macs. Anybody who has to carry groceries up stairs for an hour probably deserves a whole Big Mac.


3.85: Percentage of pregnant women surveyed in 2014 who reported using marijuana in the past month, up from 2.37 percent in 2002 survey

— Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Stories for the waiting room

The job of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, comprised of diverse health experts, is to offer authoritative advice to Congress on matters of health, most often on the value and frequency of screenings for everything from hearing tests for infants to various cancer assessments.

Recently, though, the task force said it would like a lot more research before it could make recommendations in six areas: whether e-cigarettes can be an effective aid to quit smoking; screening for autism spectrum disorder in children; screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea in men; vitamin supplements to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease; aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer; and screening for skin cancer in adults

Doc talk

Guessing tubes: stethoscope

Phobia of the week

Stasibasiphobia or stasiphobia: fear of standing

Never say diet

The Major League Eating record for sour pickles is 5 pounds, 11.2 ounces in 6 minutes, held by Patrick Bertoletti. His defeated and disgruntled competitors won awards for sour grapes.

Best medicine

It is well documented that for every mile that you jog, you add one minute to your life. This enables you at 85 years old to spend an additional five months in a nursing home at $5,000 per month.


"If something happens to him, then it happens to him. It's like all the rest of us, no? That's why we have a vice president and a speaker of the House and a whole line of people. They can just keep dying."

— Dr. Harold Bornstein, personal physician to Donald Trump, whom he once said would be the "healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency"

Medical History

This week in 1962, the Navy ship U.S.S. Diamond Head set sail for Africa. Its passengers were medical workers equipped with the newly invented vaccination gun "pistola de la paz," or "pistol of peace." Their mission was to conduct the first field trials Robert Hingson's "jet" injector, which enabled more efficient mass innoculations without need of needles and syringes and subsequently improved the health of millions of people. Hingson thought the most important benefit of the hypospray was that it did not frighten children undergoing vaccination nearly as much as did needles.


Q: When you blush, what other part of your body automatically blushes too?

a) Your toes

b) Your stomach lining

c) Your armpits

d) Your popliteal fossa

Answer: b) Your stomach lining, which is tied into the same sympathetic nervous system response. Your popliteal fossa, by the way, is the backside of the knee.

Curtain calls

On the night of Feb. 2, 1959, nine ski-hikers abandoned their camp, some clad only in underwear despite sub-zero temperatures, and walked to their deaths. Six died of hypothermia; three from unexplained injuries.

When their bodies were discovered, the corpses showed no signs of struggle, though one had a fatal skull fracture, two had major chest fractures and one was missing her tongue. Tests by Soviet investigators noted that some of the hikers had been exposed to large amounts of radiation, but no official explanation for their deaths was ever determined.


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