December 6, 2019

Weekend reads: Why you had room for pie after that big Thanksgiving dinner

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    The perils of working in retail. According to recently released federal labor data, 3.5 out of every 100 full-time retail workers suffered a nonfatal injury or illness at work in 2018—a rate higher than those for manufacturing jobs, construction workers, people who specialize in buildings, and mining and oil field workers. Moreover, among the different types of retail stores, rates of injury and illness were highest among pet supply stores, which saw about 7% of employees suffer from nonfatal injuries in 2018. Employees at building material and garden equipment stores, as well as tire dealers and warehouse clubs, also saw higher risks of injury or illness. In retail, the most prevalent injuries are sprains, muscle sores, and general soreness, the data shows. However, the most dangerous industry of all in 2018 was the farming industry, which saw 5% of workers get a nonfatal injury or illness.

    Cellphone-related injuries keep rising, study finds. Cellphone use-related injuries—including tripping, falling, and head and neck injuries—have increased "steeply" as the devices have become widely adopted over the past 20 years, according to a study published Thursday in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. For the study, researchers looked for cellphone-related injuries to the head and neck in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which collates ED data from roughly 100 U.S. hospitals. The researchers found that from January 1998 to December 2017, 2,501 patients sought help for cellphone-related injuries. And when the researchers extrapolated those findings to a national scale, they estimated a total of more than 76,000 cases of cellphone-related injuries over that time period. Moreover, the researchers found that while most of the injuries reported were mild, some were serious, including the 18% of reported injuries that involved internal organs and even a few cases involving traumatic brain injuries. Overall, a large number of the injuries were caused by people falling while looking at their phones, the researchers said.

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    The reason you still want dessert after a big meal. Ever notice that even after feeling stuffed after a big meal, you still feel like you have room for dessert? This so-called "second stomach" phenomenon is referred to as sensory-specific satiety, Madeline Marshall writes for Vox. Barbara Rolls, director of Penn State University's Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behaviors, explained that sensory-specific satiety is the experience of, "I've just had enough of that food, I want something else." Vox workers conducted a small study to test it for themselves. They gave participants a serving of macaroni and cheese and told them to eat until they were full. After they were full, they gave them more macaroni, and none of them were pleased. But one day after participants finished their serving of macaroni, Vox offered them ice cream and found participants ate three times more ice cream than they did macaroni and cheese. "They weren't physically full," Marshall writes, "they…wanted something different." The purpose of sensory-specific satiety is to encourage us to switch from food to food to keep us healthy. "We're omnivores and we need to eat a variety, so having a shift in how much we like the food that we're eating but still like other foods encourages variety," Rolls said.

    Why more whales are dying from plastic. Lately there have been many reports of whales washing up on shore with plastic filling their stomachs, Umair Ifran reports for Vox. One pregnant sperm whale in April washed up on a beach with almost 50 pounds of plastic bags and containers in her stomach, and another in the Philippines was found with 88 pounds of plastic. According to Irfan this is partly because the amount of plastics humans dump in the ocean has hit "obscene proportions," with about eight million metric tons of plastic thrown into the ocean each year. Irfan explains that it's almost impossible for whales to avoid ingesting plastic, in part because they feed on other sea creatures, such anchovies and krill, which also ingest microplastics—which means plastic is almost always in whales' food supply. And whales who hunt larger animals, such as seals, might mistake plastic bags for food, Irfan writes. Irfan adds that while we see only a small proportion of whales who are harmed by plastic, the few cases we do encounter make the news because "the whales themselves are very big and the plastic culprits are startlingly obvious." Irfan writes, "Even for casual observers, a dead whale blocking a beach vacation photo is pretty hard to ignore."

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