Current Event June 7, 2017
Chronic stress and lack of sleep seem to be the new normal for American teens. Most teens are not getting the 9-10 hours of sleep a night that their bodies require. As a result, some schools are purchasing nap pods—reclining chairs with a dome that blocks out light. The idea is that students can use the pods for 20-minute periods of rest and relaxation. These naps can boost memory and attention and help students perform throughout the day. Listen to learn more about the challenges facing modern teens and how nap pods can help.
Current Event May 31, 2017
China is scheduled to host more than 400 marathons this year as part of the central government’s national campaign to boost tourism and promote exercise. During a period of slowed economic growth, more and more cities in China are signing up to hold marathons. However, the central government has also criticized runners for lack of health awareness and organizers for poor safety practices. Listen to learn more about the growing interest in marathons in China and how organizers are trying to improve the process.
Current Event March 20, 2017
Republicans have released a health care bill that will repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. This new bill has been reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office, which states in a report that with this plan as many as 14 million Americans will lose health coverage in the next year, with estimates of 24 million people losing health coverage over the next decade. Many Republicans believe these numbers are overestimated. They are focusing instead on how the Republican plan will reduce the federal budget deficit by over $300 billion over ten years. Listen to learn more about the changes to the U.S. health care system proposed in the Republican plan.
Current Event December 16, 2016
Voters in three cities in California voted to place a one cent-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Proponents of the ballot measure believe the soda tax will help keep kids healthy and cut down on obesity. This movement to tax sugary drinks is becoming popular in other states and worldwide. In Mexico, a tax on sugary beverages resulted in a 20% drop in sales. Listen to this story and debate both sides of a tax on sugary beverages.
Current Event December 2, 2016
The United Nations set an ambitious goal of ending extreme poverty and fighting disease by 2030. But a lot of governments and international organizations and researchers still aren't collecting basic statistics. For example, currently over 150 million kids in poor countries have stunted growth, largely due to malnutrition, but there isn’t data about which nutrients available in these countries are most needed to prevent malnutrition. The data gap is especially noticeable when it comes to statistics on girls and women. This makes it hard to prioritize health spending. Listen to this story and debate what can be done to improve data on poverty.
Current Event November 16, 2016
Scurvy is an ancient disease that used to prevent long distance sea travel. People need to eat food containing vitamin C to prevent scurvy, so it's rarely seen today because most people have a vitamin rich diet. But recently, cases of scurvy have appeared in some populations. Low-income males and people with mental health issues are especially at risk. Scurvy is easy to treat, and eating more vitamin C is enough to reverse its effects. However, doctors often don’t think to look for scurvy, thinking it’s a disease from the Ancient Egyptians, not today. Listen to hear how doctors are helping their patients deal with the reappearance of this old illness.
Current Event September 26, 2016
Thousands of Native Americans and supporters are protesting the construction of an oil pipeline from North Dakota to central Illinois, that will transport 470,000 barrels of oil per day. They are against it because a section of the pipeline will run near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe and its supporters have serious concerns about the project affecting their land and water. President Obama has ordered a temporary halt on the construction of the pipeline, but the Sioux tribe wants a permanent halt to the construction. Listen to hear more about this controversy.
Current Event September 2, 2016
New Delhi, India has some of the the most polluted air in the world. Levels of pollution reached hazardous levels many days of the year. For the people of New Delhi, this has meant an increase in health problems such as asthma and other sicknesses. As India’s growth continues, it consumes more energy, which creates pollution. What is the right balance between economic growth and the health threats of pollution produced by all this growth? Listen to this story and then debate: Is development or clean air more important?
Current Event August 8, 2016
Mosquitoes with the Zika virus have infected people in Miami, Florida. The Center For Disease Control (CDC) has issued a travel warning, especially for pregnant women, for a neighborhood of Miami. This is the first time the CDC has issued a travel warning in the continental United States. Zika is a virus spread through mosquitoes that can cause serious birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected. An emergency response team is working to contain the outbreak and stop it from spreading anywhere else in the United States. Listen to the story to hear how the governor of Florida and the CDC are working together to keep people safe from Zika.
Current Event May 17, 2016
Electronic cigarettes, or “e-cigarettes” have become popular in recent years, especially among kids and young people. Like tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes expose users to the addictive chemical nicotine. In order to protect kids and other users from these dangers, the Food and Drug Administration is beginning to impose restrictions on the companies that produce and sell e-cigarettes. One restriction is the first nationwide ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors. And companies will now be required to disclose the ingredients and formally apply to the FDA for approval. Listen to hear more about these new regulations and their potential impact on the e-cigarette industry.
Current Event April 26, 2016
A six-year old, Dylan, has a friend with a rare liver disease. When Dylan was told that doctors needed money to find a cure to help his friend, Jonah, he decided to help out. He wrote a book called ‘Chocolate Bar’ and raised money for research. He explained that the phrase ‘chocolate bar’ means ‘awesome’ and coined the phrase ‘so chocolate bar.’ Two years later, book sales were over $1 million. Listen to hear about this friendship and a boy who wanted to make a difference in the lives of children with this disease.
Current Event April 1, 2016
Scientists all over the world are racing to stop the Zika virus epidemic. One solution being tested in Brazil is to release hundreds of thousands of male mosquitoes every day that have been engineered with a “self-destruct” gene. Female mosquitoes are the only ones who bite, so if they mate with these genetically engineered males, all offspring dies before they can spread Zika. This is projected to cut the number of disease-spreading mosquitoes by 70-80 percent. But not everyone agrees that this is the best solution. Engineering the mosquito population may allow other diseases to spread. Other solutions include sterilizing the mosquitoes or using bacteria. Listen and debate what your students think are the best ways to fight the Zika epidemic.
Current Event February 8, 2016
The Zika virus outbreak has been declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. Thousands of new cases have been discovered and the virus is spreading rapidly through Brazil and much of Latin America but it’s considered a public health threat to the rest of the world. Even though the symptoms of the virus are mild, if you are pregnant, the virus could damage your unborn child’s brain. The Zika virus is similar to other viruses, so a vaccine could be ready in 3 to 4 years. Listen to hear more about this public health emergency.
Current Event January 25, 2016
For more than a year, Flint Michigan’s tap water has been unsafe to drink. The problem started in 2014 when the city decided to switch the drinking water supply to the Flint River to save money. This water damaged the pipes and lead seeped into the drinking water. But the state ignored complaints about the smell and taste of the water. It wasn’t until January 2015 that the governor of Michigan declared a state of emergency because of the high lead levels in the water. This story looks at how the water crisis has caused residents to lose trust in their government officials.
Current Event January 22, 2016
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that the use of electronic cigarettes has tripled among U.S. teenagers in the last year. They are now more popular than conventional cigarettes. E-cigarettes create a nicotine vapor to inhale, which is still dangerous for developing brains. Public health officials are concerned about how aggressively e-cigarette companies market to teens with sweet flavors and cartoons. Listen to this story and then debate the positive and negative opinions on e-cigarettes.
Current Event January 13, 2016
Americans throw away about a third of the food they buy, on average. Food ends up in landfills and creates methane, which contributes to climate change. A new national goal has been set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. There are many reasons people throw away food. Listen to hear about some solutions to this issue.
Current Event October 9, 2015
Since the Governor of California signed the End-Of-Life Option Act, there are now five states that allow physician-assisted suicide. Advocates believe this allows death with dignity for terminally ill people citizens. This bill is strongly opposed by the Catholic Church and disability rights groups. They want to see more safeguards to protect cases of elderly and disabled people who might not have control over their medical decisions. What do you think? Should people have the right to choose when their own life ends? Listen to this interview with an activist in support of assisted suicide and debate the pros and cons of physician-assisted suicide.
Current Event June 19, 2015
Not all people can hear. Some people are born deaf and others lose their hearing during their lifetime because of an illness. Because hearing loss is complicated, there isn’t one solution. Hearing aids and cochlear implants are common solutions but they don’t work for everyone. A new procedure called an auditory brainstem implant might be the solution for people who don’t respond to traditional hearing aids. Listen to learn more about the human ear, causes of hearing loss and the new solution this procedure presents.
Current Event May 31, 2015
A new and deadly strain of avian influenza, or bird flu, has hit poultry farms in the Midwest. This outbreak is new and surprising because infectious disease experts don’t know how it is spreading. The old theory that the disease is spread between birds in close contact has not been consistent with this mutated strain of bird flu. Millions of chickens and turkeys have died so far, impacting both farmers and consumers. Listen to learn more about this disease and its transmission.
Current Event May 26, 2015
Ebola, Swine Flu, Lou Gehrig’s - all of these illnesses were named after places, animals or people. In fact, most disease are named in an ad-hoc or random way, and that can have unexpected consequences for individuals and communities associated with the diseases. The World Health Organization is hoping to change this by establishing new guidelines for disease naming that are based on medical factors. Listen to learn more about the current way diseases are named and this suggested alternative.