Study shows sleep deprivation makes you crave high-calorie foods. (Getty Images)
No, ‘hamburgers’ was not the #1 story, but do you really want to see another picture depicting Covered California? (Getty Images)

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.

  1. The Rollout of Obamacare — From Jan. 3 when the federal government approved California’s exchange through the state vs. county debate about funding the Medi-Cal expansion to the May release of plans and premiums to the launch of Covered California and the many challenges — and successes — since then, the implementation of the ACA has dominated health news coverage. If you’ve got questions about how the law affects you and your family, check out our Obamacare Guide, just for Californians. And if you just want to be entertained, watch this video of “President Obama” telling you to “sign up while it’s hot.”
  2. Childhood Vaccines  — the state released its annual report on immunization status of kindergarteners and Marin County had the highest personal-belief exemption rate in the Bay Area. We simplified the state data to make it easy for you to look up your child’s school online and see what percentage of children have been vaccinated — or had parents who had opted out. On Jan. 1, 2014, a new state law goes into effect requiring parents who want to opt out of vaccines to meet with a health provider first. Washington instituted such a law in 2011 and the number of parents opting out of vaccines has dropped more than 25 percent.
  3. Soda Tax — efforts to pass taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages failed in Richmond and El Monte in 2012, but advocates are moving full steam ahead. A February Field Poll found that the majority of Californians surveyed support a soda tax — if the proceeds will benefit children’s health. Two members of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors are backing a soda tax in the county. Look for more on that in 2014.
  4. HIV “Cure” — while the story did not happen in California, researchers and advocates here were electrified by the news of a toddler who appeared to have been cured of HIV. The baby was born to an HIV-positive mother who did not receive anti-retroviral drugs during pregnancy. The baby was started on medication when she was 30 hours old and stayed on them until she was about 18 months when the mother stopped giving her medication, apparently because of her chaotic life circumstances.
  5. Valley Fever — The Reporting on Health Collaboration has done great work bringing attention to valley fever, an illness too well-known in the Central Valley and other parts of the desert southwest, but virtually ignored by the rest of the country. The number of valley fever cases skyrocketed 850 percent from 1998 to 2011, as the collaboration reported earlier this year. In September, federal officials attending a symposium in Bakersfield on valley fever said they will commence a clinical trial to determine base practices to treat the condition.
  6. Breast Density Notification Law — on April 1, a law went into effect requiring doctors to notify women if they had dense breast tissue. Women with extremely dense breast tissue are at increased risk of breast cancer, and the new law requires that they be notified if a doctor determines (usually from a mammogram) that a woman has this condition. The problem? Breast density is graded from 1 (not dense) to 4 (extremely dense). Under the law, women who have a 3 rating will also be notified — even though there is no solid evidence that women with a 3 rating are at increased risk of breast cancer.
  7. Does Sleep Deprivation Makes you Crave Junk Food? — this was a short story about a small study (only 23 people) with eyebrow-raising results: study participants who were not allowed to sleep had a much higher preference for high-calorie food than healthy food. It seems that when you’re sleep deprived an area of the brain that is associated with desire to eat is lit up, which three areas of the brain that deal with decision-making slow down.
Top 7 Stories on State of Health in 2013 27 December,2013Lisa Aliferis

  • MaureenABA

    As this piece points out, soda taxes were voted down in Richmond and El Monte – and in fact, were soundly defeated for good reason. Soda excise taxes infringe on consumer choice, hurt small businesses, and won’t live up to the Pollyannaish promise to reduce complex health conditions by any measurable amount.

    Why won’t targeting soda with a tax help health? Because no single source of calories is uniquely responsible for public health challenges, including obesity and diabetes. And, in fact, states that have experimented with soda excise taxes continue to rank among the top ten most obese in the nation. Also, studies show that such taxes could actually trigger increased calorie consumption of other foods and beverages:

    As the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) puts it, incentives rather than restrictions are a more beneficial approach to promote healthy lifestyles. We agree that you can’t tax and regulate your way to health – and such policies only invite government to find even more common, everyday items to tax and restrict.

    -Maureen Beach, American Beverage Association

  • Mirable

    My name is Mrs Marian am from Philippine
    I have been suffering hardship from HIV/AIDS since 7yrs now, and i happen to have 2 kids for my husband, and now we cannot proceed to have another kids all because of my disease and now i have do all what a human like i and my husband can do just to get my disease healed, i have went to several places to seek for help not even one person could ever help, until i melt a comment on the daily news paper that was commented by Desmond about how this powerful traditional doctor help him get cured of the disease (HIV-AIDS) ” my fellow beloved” i firstly taught having a help from a spiritual traditional healer was a wrong idea, but i think of these, will i continue to stress on these disease all day when i have someone to help me save my life?” so i gather all my faiths and put in all interest to contact him through his Email address at , so after i have mailed him of helping get my disease cured, he respond to me fast as possible that i should not be afraid, that he is a truthful and powerful doctor which i firstly claimed him to be. So after all set has been done, he promise me that i will be healed but on a condition that i provide him some items and obeyed all his oracle said. I did all by accepting his oracles fact and only to see that after some weeks of taking his herbal medicine i notice some changes in my body system and i went for check up the day he ask me to go for check up to confirm if the sickness was still there,to my greatest surprise i could not find any sickness in my body i was first shocked and later arise to be the happiest woman on earth after i have concluded my final test on the hospital by my doctor that i am now HIV- Negative. My papers for check are with me and now i am happy and glad for his miraculous help and power.With these i must tell everyone who might seek for any help, either for HIV cure or much more to contact him now at these following email now,
    Email:” sir thank you so much for your immediate cure of my disease, i must say a big thanks for curing my disease, i owe you in return. Thanks and be blessed sir.
    Mrs Marian


Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED’s State of Health blog. Since 2011, she’s been writing and editing stories for the site. Before taking up blogging, she toiled for many years (more than we can count) producing health stories for television, including Dateline NBC and San Francisco’s CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV. She also wrote up a handy guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. Her work has been honored for many awards. Most recently she was a finalist for “Best Topical Reporting” from the Online News Association. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis

State of Health Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor