Most scientists want to tell the truth. We want to help people by answering important questions, and sharing what we learn. But the research endeavor is big and messy. And as we’ve learned from the climate change and HIV/AIDS debates, there will always be folks who favor controversy, dogma, and … More >
Q. I thought measles was all but eradicated in the United States. Why is it back?
A. There are two main reasons. First, though significant progress has been made in reducing global measles incidence, there is still substantial circulation of the virus in other countries. Unvaccinated U.S. residents who travel to … More >
As I write this post, it has been about three weeks since Thomas Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in Texas. The media and political hysteria that has ensued in this country is amazing, statistically and historically. Unlike, say, tuberculosis or the flu, it is extremely hard to get infected with … More >
The bottom line is that the proposed one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Berkeley would reduce sugar consumption, and that would be good for the health of the population.
Were the measure to pass, it seems pretty clear that the tax would be passed on to consumers in the form … More >
Ebola’s natural reservoirs are animals, if only because human hosts die to too quickly. Outbreaks tend to occur in locations where changes in landscapes have brought animals and humans into closer contact. Thus, there is considerable speculation about whether ecological factors might be related to the current outbreak. (See this … More >
For years, political divisions over the environment have had the seemingly odd feature that Americans farthest from the open country have tended to be most supportive of protecting the environment, while those nearest to it — farmers and other rural residents — have been most resistant. This split has been … More >
The health of the American people has risen and fallen with fluctuations in the health of its poorest. Although more vulnerable in the past, the affluent have generally managed, major epidemics aside, to stay healthier than other Americans. Going back centuries, they regularly had nutritious food, usually clean water, decent … More >
I am continuing my weekly blog built around the large undergraduate class I co-teach on Poverty and Population. The philosophy of the class has been well summarized by the economist Partha Dasgupta in a recent Science article. He pointed out that, “Family planning is not subject to the play of … More >
In my role as Health Officer of San Francisco I received a flurry of concerned calls about a research study that claimed that the 2007 San Francisco ban on plastic bag resulted in an immediate, very large increase in foodborne illnesses and deaths. From their conclusions:
“We examine deaths and emergency … More >