From CVS taking a stand against tobacco to tech companies offering “egg freezing” as an employee perk, 2014 saw many momentous health milestones. With the New Year approaching, we take a look back at the various health-related trials and tribulations of yesteryear.
FDA Announces New Food Labels
Would you like a nutrition label with that doughnut? Like it or not, the answer to that question might soon be “yes.” This year, the FDA issued a new ruling requiring chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie information on their menus. Vending machines and movie theaters are fair game, too, so you’ll no longer be in the dark about how many cals are in that gargantuan tub of movie theater popcorn. So much for “oblivion is bliss.”
The War Against Ebola
Ebola, the highly deadly hemorrhagic fever that obliterates nearly half of its victims, originated in Guinea in March and soon spread rapidly throughout towns and cities in West Africa. In September, the virus hit close to home when the first case of Ebola was reported on American soil, followed by several other high-profile cases in the US involving healthcare and aid workers.
Although the virus has since been eradicated in the US, Africa still struggles to contain the rampant epidemic due in part to poor medical facilities and limited resources. To date, the epidemic has infected over 18,000 individuals resulting in over 6,500 deaths.
Routine Pelvic Exams Do “More Harm Than Good”
Will the annual female pelvic exam soon become a thing of the past? In June, the American College of Physicians recommended against performing pelvic exams on healthy, asymptomatic, non-pregnant women. Their reason? Pelvic exams are a time-consuming and expensive procedure that costs the United State healthcare system more than $2.6 billion every year.
But not so fast: If you’re experiencing any weird symptoms “down there,” always play it safe and give your gyno a call. And don’t neglect those Pap smears, either.
Body Positivity Makes a Strong Statement
2014 was the year of the booty—and loving one’s body, curves and all. From Nicki Minaj’s booty-centric song “Anaconda” to Meghan Trainer’s body positivity anthem “All About the Bass,” the popular media joyously celebrated all shapes and sizes.
Panera Bread Gives Artificial Ingredients the Heave-Ho
So long, MSG. Panera Bread, the popular fast-casual dining chain known for its assortment of salads, soups, sandwiches, and baked good, vowed to phase out all artificial additives from its menu items by year 2016. Other like-minded chains, like Starbucks and Chipotle, also plan to give artificial ingredients the boot.
CVS Nixes Cigarette Sales
Marking a pivotal step in the fight against tobacco, CVS Pharmacy announced in February its plan to pull all cigarettes and tobacco products from store shelves by October 1st. CVS, now rebranded as “CVS Health,” reasoned that the sale of tobacco was clashing with its health care mission. Although the loss of tobacco sales might implicate a modest loss of revenue for the pharmacy giant, consumers and health experts alike responded favorably to the store’s landmark decision. Now, if only other drugstore chains would follow suit!
Death by Sugar?
While excess salt used to be regarded as the food industry’s Achilles heel, mounting evidence is now pointing to sugar as the crux of our nation’s health crisis. The sweet stuff causes everything from obesity to high blood pressure to chronic disease like diabetes, researchers say. Consider that yet another reason to skip dessert.
Facebook and Apple Offer “Egg Freezing” For Female Employees
Tech companies are notorious for luring new hires with lavish perks—on-site dog parks, free lunches, even napping pods. But this year, Facebook and Apple added another surprising employee benefit to their arsenal: Egg freezing for female employees. For career-driven women who want to delay childbearing in order to focus on their jobs, Apple and Facebook announced that they would contribute $20,000 toward the often-exorbitant costs of egg freezing. Some critics skeptically questioned the companies’ intentions, while others applauded Apple and Facebook for helping to advance women’s rights in the workplaces.