A story about how our biology taunts us by making short-term weight loss fairly easy but permanent weight loss nearly impossible was the top health news story of the year.
The second-most ready story was an analysis of public health inspection reports from national chain restaurants. It revealed a range of health violations, including temperature and food storage issues, food handling and handwashing problems, pest control, cross-contamination and general kitchen cleanliness.
A food-related story rounded out the top three. Researchers said artificial sweeteners may have directly contributed to enhancing the obesity epidemic that the calorie-free sweeteners were intended to fight.
The next most-viewed story explored how drinking water was contaminated by excreted drugs from people. Trace evidence of acetaminophen, codeine, antibiotics, hormones and steroids passed through most sewage treatment processes and eventually in our drinking water. No one knows whether the cocktail of biologically active compounds, consumed at low levels over a lifetime, is a human health risk. A related story comparing bottle and tap water also made the list.
Ebola cases and deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia quickly exceeded the totals for all previous outbreaks of the disease combined. A look at Ebola by the numbers was the most viewed story on the topic, followed by a story on the first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S. Among the top 10 included:
- How the recent history in West Africa, such as urbanization, may have contributed to the outbreak.
- A news story on projections of Ebola cases.
Another virus, enterovirus D68, sent hundreds of children to hospital in the U.S. and Canada. A frequently asked questions and answers story provided eight facts parents should know.
A feature with the headline, "Marijuana was criminalized in 1923, but why?" was the eighth most read.
To complete the list, two stories reconsidered use of prescription drugs for two common conditions, depression and heart disease.