Children are increasingly getting the majority of their daily calories from ultraprocessed foods high in sugar, salt and trans fat, says a new report. In 2000, data on daily food intake estimated ultraprocessed foods constituted 61% of children’s caloric consumption. In 2018, the latest data available, it had risen to 67%.
The rise in ultraprocessed foods — think ready-to-heat or -eat items or sugary sweets and drinks — was higher among Black and Mexican American youth than white youth.
Vitamin D and Colorectal Cancer
For unknown reasons, colorectal cancer rates are rising in people under the age of 50, while overall cases are declining. A new Nurses Health Study may offer one possible reason: Researchers found a link between vitamin D and diagnoses of colorectal cancer and its precursors: polyps discovered during colonoscopies.
Higher total vitamin D intake was associated with significantly reduced risk of early-onset colorectal cancer and colon polyps. There wasn’t a similar link after age 50, and the association was stronger for dietary vitamin D, primarily dairy, than supplements.
Note: The study was observational, which can’t determine cause and effect, and most participants in the study were white and female, so results may differ in other demographics.
Body of Knowledge
The pupil of the eye expands as much as 45% when a person looks at something pleasing. “Are your eyes dilated or are you just happy to see me?”
Get Me That, Stat!
Even before the pandemic, significant portions of the U.S. public were in fair or poor health. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey in 2019 found that 1 in 5 of those living in nonurban areas and 1 in 7 of those in urban areas described their health as being fair or poor. These trends worsened with age, with nearly 1 in 4 people above the age of 40 in nonmetropolitan areas reporting poor health.
26: Amount, in billions of dollars, that Johnson & Johnson and three drug distributors have agreed to pay to settle lawsuits over their alleged role in the opioid epidemic. The money would be divvied up among states.
Phaeochromocytoma: a collection of dark-colored cells or tumor on the adrenal gland
Mania of the week
Macromania: a delusion that parts of one’s body are larger than they really are
Never Say ‘Diet’
The Major League Eating record for pumpkin pie is 20 pounds, 13 ounces in eight minutes, held by Matt Stonie, squashing the competition at the 2014 Giant Pumpkin Pie Festival in Elk Grove, California.
A man accidentally cut off all of his fingers with a power saw in his garage workshop. When he got to the hospital, the doctor said, “Thank goodness for microsurgery. Give me the fingers and I’ll sew them back on.”
The man said, “I wasn’t able to pick them up.”
“One of the most common diseases is diagnosis.” — Austrian writer Karl Kraus (1874-1936)
This week in 1948, a killing smog descended overnight on the small town of Donora, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The fog was a mix of industrial gases — sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and metal dust — from the local zinc smelter. Over the next five days, 20 residents died and half the town’s population of 7,000 were hospitalized with difficulty breathing.
Q: What is cerumen composed of?
A: Cerumen is the medical term for earwax, which isn’t wax at all. Cerumen is primarily composed of secretions from two glands: ceruminous and sebaceous. The ceruminous gland is a sweat gland that rests just outside the auditory canal. Sebaceous glands excrete oil that helps lubricate the skin. These secretions consist of fatty acids, squalene (a polyunsaturated hydrocarbon also found in certain fish oils), alcohols and cholesterol, mixed with skin cells shed by the constantly renewing ear canal.
Cerumen helps safeguard the ears by preventing microbial infections.
Some parents insist that 4-year-old boys have a spurt of testosterone, which explains their challenging behavior at that age. In fact, there is no evidence that such a spurt exists. Raised levels of testosterone are not possible when the testes, where testosterone is made, are small and triggering hormone levels are low.
There are rises in testosterone during a boy’s development, which coincide with major brain development, but these don’t happen at the age of four. They happen at puberty, and testosterone doesn’t “spurt.” Rather levels in the body gradually increase, accelerating in mid- to late-puberty.
“I’m Swedish. Pass the lutefisk.” — Headstone of Genevieve Adeline Batty (1918-2005) who grew up in the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas. Lutefisk is codfish marinated in lye until it’s acidic enough to cause a chemical burn, at which time it is soaked in water and steamed into an odiferous, gelatinous dish.
To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.