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WebMD's Top Health Stories of 2011

The 5 Most Significant Health Stories of the Year
By
WebMD Feature

What sets important health stories apart is that they involve all of us on a personal level -- even if we don’t know it at the time.

It may be a story that transfixes us because its impact is immediate -- or it may be a story that’s a bit under the radar but may later change the way we look at health.

2011 Year in Health

For that reason, choosing five stories out of thousands is never easy, because only some are obvious.

This year, WebMD chose stories that challenged our ideas about diet and nutrition, about public health, and about our understanding of disease.

Our first looks at something we do every day, and how we struggle to do it right.

What Not to Eat

There are good reasons why diet and nutrition is the most popular topic on WebMD.

We know that diet determines health, but we’re confused. It seems as if the definition of a healthy diet keeps changing. Weight loss advice keeps changing. What we see on reality TV shows bears little resemblance to, well, reality. This comes against the backdrop of the U.S. obesity epidemic -- which last year got even worse  -- and the rising tide of type 2 diabetes.

Then in June, government health agencies dropped a bombshell that added fire to the debate: They blew up the venerable food pyramid. In place of the pyramid, a plate -- MyPlate.gov -- showing which foods we should be eating, with an eye on portion size.

Most of the advice was relatively simple, such as make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Simple or not, it highlighted the ongoing concerns of the WebMD audience. What should we eat? What is the best diet?

Readers keep searching for answers to these questions, throughout WebMD:

Want to weigh in? Discussions are ongoing in WebMD's Eating & Diet Community.

Contaminated Cantaloupes

Fresh melons are good for you. Except for cantaloupe crawling with listeria bacteria, like those sold across the U.S. in the summer of 2011.

Those tainted cantaloupe set a dubious U.S. record in 2011: most deaths in a listeria outbreak. The surprising source of the outbreak was traced to a single Colorado farm.

It all started on Sept. 2, when the Colorado Health Department notified the CDC of a cluster of cases of listeriosis. By Sept. 6, sick people who filled out CDC questionnaires reported eating "Rocky Ford" cantaloupe. On Sept 10, the FDA was knocking at the door of Jensen Farms. The company's broker stopped distributing the melons and urged stores to remove them from shelves.

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