It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. When all is said and done, 2013 enjoyed a number of memorable health trends, fads, flops and milestones. From Prancercise®’s 15 minutes to the infamous Lululemon recall, the year held some surprises, good and bad. As we prepare to ring in the New Year, let’s take one last look back at some of the most memorable health moments of 2013.
Prancercise® returns to the fitness scene.
Defined as “a springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse’s gait and ideally induced by elation,” Prancercise® was invented by Joanna Rohrback back in 1989, but the trend didn’t catch on until a 5-minute YouTube video of the wacky workout went viral in June, stirring up quite a storm in the Internet world. We’ll let you decide whether this YouTube fitness sensation was a fail or a win, but we tend to skew towards the latter. After all, any form of movement—no matter how flamboyant or whimsical—trumps sitting on the couch any day.
Kale attains superfood stardom.
Move over, arugula: 2013 was the year of the almighty kale. This nutrient-packed superfood was served sautéed, roasted, toasted, fried, raw, in smoothies and more. Kale wasn’t just the realm of health nuts, either: Top chefs around the country zealously hopped on the kale bandwagon, elevating the humble green to haute cuisine status. Personally, we hope kale is here to stay—nutritious and tasty? It’s a win/win.
Lululemon suffers a few missteps.
Lululemon, the high-end women’s active-wear company (and purveyor of $100 yoga pants), took some heat this year when the company famously recalled its signature stretchy workout pants after receiving numerous complaints from customers that the pants were, ahem, see-through. Then, in early November, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson sparked national outcry when he made some deriding comments about plus-sized women: “Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work,” the billionaire notoriously said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “It’s about the rubbing through the thighs.” Tsk, tsk.
Go Red for Women and Weight Watchers celebrate milestones.
Thanks to the “Go Red” campaign launched by the American Heart Association 10 years ago, fatal heart disease in women has declined by 34 percent. 2013 also marked the 50th anniversary of Weight Watchers, which began as a weight loss support group in co-founder Jean Nidetch’s tiny New York apartment and remains popular worldwide.
The Color Run™ brings 5Ks to the masses.
Thanks to the Color Run™, which bills itself as the “Happiest 5K on the Planet,” running has never been more fun—or colorful. In 2013, these color-splashed, whimsical races took the world by storm, hosting more than 170 events in 30+ countries. The concept is simple but contagious: Race participants wear white shirts and receive a head-to-toe douse of paint at every kilometer, transforming the running masses into a brilliant kaleidoscope of color. Gone are the days of the ho-hum 5K.
Obamacare’s health insurance marketplace has a rocky rollout.
One of the Affordable Care Act’s most significant features, the online marketplace at healthcare.gov, allows Americans who don’t have access to employer-sponsored plans to shop for lower-cost private healthcare options. Unfortunately, the website was plagued with technical difficulties, delaying the enrollment process for many and becoming the center of gripes from both sides of the aisle.
Angelina Jolie undergoes a preventive double mastectomy.
By publicly announcing her decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy, Angelina Jolie fostered crucial discourse on the link between genes and breast cancer. The actress opted to have the radical surgery at age 37 after genetic testing revealed a defective BRCA1 gene that put her risk of developing breast cancer at 87 percent. Angelina’s story put genetic testing and preventive mastectomies back in the white-hot spotlight.
Boston Marathon Bombing kills 3 and injures hundreds.
On April 15th, a series of deadly bombings at the 117th Boston Marathon left the running community—and world—reeling. Around 2:50 p.m. that day, two bombs detonated near the crowded finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 140 others, transforming the joyous marathon celebration into a scene of bloody carnage. In the days following, a riveting manhunt ensued, in which thousands of law enforcement officers swarmed the streets of Boston in pursuit of suspects and brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tamerian was killed in a subsequent shootout with police, while Dzhokhar was taken into custody and is awaiting trial. The event inspired the hashtag “#BostonStrong,” a symbol of strength and solidarity in the wake of the tragic events.
E-Cigarettes Explode Onto the Scene
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated inhalers that deliver a small dose of nicotine without the noxious cigarette smoke toxins. In 2013, e-cigarettes have enjoyed a more mainstream appeal and acceptance, appearing everywhere: On subways, at concerts, in bars and even in high schools. But as more and more individuals wanting to kick the nicotine habit are making the switch to “vaping,” it has ignited some contentious debate: How safe are these devices, really? And are e-cigarettes enticing teens and young adults to use traditional tobacco cigarettes? These questions prompted the FDA to recently consider clamping down on e-cigarette sales and regulating them as tobacco products.
FDA Proposes a Ban on Trans Fat
In November, the FDA issued a proposal that, if passed, will ban all artificial and trans fat from the American food supply. Trans fat, which has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, is commonly found in processed foods such as frozen pizza, microwave popcorn and coffee creamer. Although some denounced the ban as an attack on freedom, many (including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg), embraced the regulation, hoping it will improve the health of Americans everywhere and drive down healthcare costs.
Paleo Diet usurps other low-carb, high-protein diets
The Paleo diet gained many adherents in 2013, making the caveman lifestyle cool again. This high-protein, low-carb diet champions meals rich in lean proteins, nuts, fruit and vegetables while limiting dairy, grains and processed foods. While we endorse the premise of eliminating as many processed foods as possible, we tend to think that a life without cheese or chocolate sounds a little dull, no?