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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 3:30 pm | A Few Clouds 66º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Scott LaFee: Fast Food Fanatics Far More Numerous Than You May Think

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that on any given day, more than one-third of U.S. adults eat fast food. The figure is based on data collected between 2013 and 2016, which found that 45 percent of adults ages 20 to 39 ate fast food on a given day, compared to 24 percent of adults ages 60 and older.

Surprisingly, the CDC also found that as family income levels rose, so, too, did fast-food consumption. Forty-two percent of higher-income adults chowed down on fast food in a given day, compared to 32 percent of lower-income adults.

Body of Knowledge

After age 30, the brain begins to lose neurons at a rate of about 50,000 per day, shrinking by about 0.25 percent of its mass each year.


1 in 7: U.S. adults who have diabetes

1 in 4: Estimated U.S. adults who have diabetes but don't know it


Doc Talk

DOE: A medical abbreviation for dyspnea on exertion, dyspnea meaning shortness of breath. It can be a symptom of a wide variety of conditions or ailments, including asthma, pneumonia, heart disease or panic disorder.

Phobia of the Week

Automatonophobia: Fear of ventriloquist dummies or wax statues

Life in Big Macs

One hour of punching a boxing bag burns 408 calories (based on a 150-pound person), the equivalent of 0.6 Big Macs.

Never Say ‘Diet’

Fast-food division: The Major League Eating record for crinkle-cut french fries is 4.46 pounds in six minutes, held by Cookie Jarvis of Nesconsett, N.Y., and 7.9 pounds of Curley’s fries in 10 minutes, held by Bob Shoudt of Philadelphia. According to Guinness World Records, André Ortolf of Augsburg, Germany, drank a standard bottle of ketchup in 17.53 seconds (using a straw).

Best Medicine

A professional bagpipe player was asked by a funeral director to perform at a graveside service for a man who had no family or friends, but who reportedly had been an aficionado of Scottish music.

Unfortunately, on the day of the funeral, the bagpiper got lost and arrived late. He saw no one at the cemetery but a group of workers around a hole in the ground. They were eating lunch. The bagpiper peered into the ground and saw the metal top of the burial vault. He felt great remorse at missing the service and for his failure to honor the deceased. Pulling out his pipes, he began to play, better than he had ever played before.

Soon, the workers gathered around him. They wept. The bagpiper wept. It was a beautiful moment, and the bagpiper felt both joy and redemption as he packed away his instrument and headed back to his car.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” one worker said, “and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for 20 years.”


“The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook.” — American chef and author Julia Child (1912-2004)


Q: What is a teratoma?

A: A tumor composed of different types of tissue, such as hair, muscle, bone and even teeth. Typically, teratomas form in the ovaries, testicles or tailbone, but can appear elsewhere. They are a type of germ cell tumor (which begin in cells that give rise to sperm or eggs). They may be cancerous or benign, often have no symptoms and affect females more often than males.

Medical Myths

In 2008, a widely reported study found that the more overweight one is, the healthier.

Study authors reported that being 5 to 10 pounds overweight offered added protection from ailments ranging from tuberculosis to Alzheimer’s disease. Even more excess poundage supposedly improved recovery from pneumonia and various other infections. And outright obesity purportedly improved eyesight, fended off cancers and reversed baldness.

The study was a hoax, which should have been obvious to readers perusing the funding agencies: McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Domino’s Pizza, Sara Lee and Krispy Kreme.

Last Words

“June 3. Cold Harbor. I was killed.” — A note found in the blood-stained diary of a dead Union soldier at the Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia, June 3, 1864.

Scott LaFee is a staff writer at UC San Diego Health and the former chief science writer at The San Diego Union-Tribune, where he covered science, medicine and technology. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Special Reports

Heroin Rising
<p>Lizette Correa shares a moment with her 9-month-old daughter, Layla, outside their Goleta home. Correa is about to graduate from Project Recovery, a program of the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and is determined to overcome her heroin addiction — for herself and for her daughter. “I look at her and I think ‘I need to be here for her and I need to show her an example, I don’t want her to see me and learn about drugs’,” she says.</p>

In Struggle to Get Clean, and Stay That Way, Young Mother Battles Heroin Addiction

Santa Barbara County sounds alarm as opiate drug use escalates, spreads into mainstream population
Safety Net Series
<p>Charles Condelos, a retired banker, regularly goes to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics for his primary care and to renew his prescription for back pain medication. He says Dr. Charles Fenzi, who was treating him that day at the Westside Clinic, and Dr. Susan Lawton are some of the best people he’s ever met.</p>

Safety Net: Patchwork of Clinics Struggles to Keep Santa Barbara County Healthy

Clinics that take all comers a lifeline for low-income patients, with new health-care law about to feed even more into overburdened system. First in a series
Prescription for Abuse
<p>American Medical Response emergency medical technicians arrive at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with little time to spare for victims of prescription drug overdoses.</p>

Quiet Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse Taking a Toll on Santa Barbara County

Evidence of addiction shows an alarming escalation, Noozhawk finds in Prescription for Abuse special report
Mental Health
<p>Rich Detty and his late wife knew something was wrong with their son, Cliff, but were repeatedly stymied in their attempts to get him help from the mental health system. Cliff Detty, 46, died in April while in restraints at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility.</p>

While Son Struggled with Mental Illness, Father Fought His Own Battle

Cliff Detty's death reveals scope, limitations of seemingly impenetrable mental health system. First in a series