The coronavirus pandemic has dominated the headlines and our daily lives for more than a year. Medical News Today has covered this fast-moving, complex story with live updates on the latest news, interviews with experts, and an ongoing investigation into the deep racial disparities that COVID-19 has helped unmask.
However, this has not stopped us from publishing hundreds of fascinating stories on a myriad of other topics.
This week, we reconsidered the link between eating carbohydrates and gaining weight. The carbohydrate-insulin model may not represent the true complexity of the body’s response to bread, fries, and pasta after all.
Also on the topic of weight loss, we reported on a study that found insufficient evidence that herbal and dietary supplements are effective if a person wants to lose weight.
The latest in our Curiosities of Medical History series also appeared this week, this time looking at the long and sometimes brutal history of therapeutic hypothermia.
We also reported on the possible roles of gut bacteria in dementia and oral bacteria in rheumatoid arthritis, warned against drinking sugar-sweetened beverages at any age, and delved into the latest research on how a powerful hallucinogenic compound could help treat serious addiction and neuropsychiatric conditions.
We highlight this research below, along with several other recent stories that you may have missed amid all the COVID-19 fervor.
1. Scientists propose a rethink of the role of carbs in obesity
Our most popular article this week, with over 240,000 page views, was our report on new research suggesting that the explanatory carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity may be too simplistic.
The model says that a spike in insulin levels after eating a meal rich in carbohydrates signals the body to store excess energy as fat and increases a person’s appetite for more food. The new research suggested that insulin has effects on multiple organs even between mealtimes and that this is also worthy of consideration.
However, proponents of the carbohydrate-insulin model have questioned the validity of this study, and we gave voice to these views in our article as well.
2. ‘Insufficient evidence’ that weight loss supplements work
This weight loss article has also proven popular, with over 70,000 page views since its publication on Tuesday. The focus here was on weight loss supplements, with researchers finding no evidence to support their use.
A major global study of 121 clinical trials with 10,000 participants investigated the value of herbal and dietary weight loss supplements. Despite demand for such supplements supporting a market worth $140 billion in the United States alone, the study found no evidence to justify their continued use.
Also of concern to the researchers was the lack of regulation controlling the safety or effectiveness of these products.
3. Curiosities of Medical History: The controversy of using cold as a treatment
Next, we have the latest in our Curiosities of Medical History series by Maria Cohut, Ph.D. This feature explored the long and strange history of therapeutic hypothermia.
The practice of cooling all or parts of the body dates back to Ancient Egypt but also features in Greek, Roman, and early modern medicine — though not always with the patient’s health and well-being in mind.
This article explored the story of cooling the body to cure it and how variations on the technique remain in use in the 21st century.
4. What is the difference between vitamin D2 and D3?
Vitamin D has featured in many MNT articles over the past year, such as in relation to COVID-19, gut bacteria, the treatment of acne and of frailty in old age, and the symptoms of deficiency. This week, our editors took a closer look at…