8 Things You Need To Know Today (November 5)

1. Research reveals potato chips are the food most linked to weight gain in kids.

A major new study finds that potato chips are one of the most obesity-promoting foods for children to eat — along with French fries, processed meat, butter, sweets, and sugary beverages. The only foods that were associated with staying at a healthy weight were whole grains and high-fiber cereal. (The Atlantic)

2. Scaring people into being healthier actually works.

Fear-based public health campaigns — like graphic images of people dying from lung cancer to discourage smoking — are effective at changing behaviors, a new study finds. But the researchers also say there are moral issues to consider when choosing to play to people's fears, including the possibility of stigmatizing diseases. (NPR)

3. Thanks to climate change, Alaska is now a farming state.

Bethel, Alaska, has reached temperatures 6 degrees Fahrenheit higher than historic averages, and one Bethel farmer is now growing organic food on land that used to be frozen over. (NPR)

4. Americans are taking more prescription drugs than ever before.

A new study found that 59 percent of Americans take prescription drugs as of 2012. This is up 8 percent since 1999. Researchers think obesity is likely to blame, eight of the 10 most commonly used drugs are typically taken to treat hypertension, heart failure, and diabetes. (JAMA)

5. Robin Williams' suicide wasn't caused by depression.

Susan Schneider Williams, the widow of the late actor, said that Williams' autopsy revealed he was suffering from Lewy body dementia. According to the Mayo Clinic, the brain disease is "the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer's" and causes hallucinations, diminished motor function, and changes in behavior. (NYT)

6. X-Men's Ice Man has come out as gay.

A younger version of the character was revealed as gay in April of this year, while the older Ice Man was still dating a female teammate. In this installment (where time travel has brought Ice Man's older and younger selves together), young Ice Man confronts his older self and learns that he's kept his sexuality a secret his whole life to avoid being judged. Staying true to X-Men's themes of acceptance, the other characters were underwhelmed and unconcerned by Ice Man's confession. (Vox)

7. Ocean acidification could be slowed by seaweed.

As the ocean grows more acidic, it slows the development of coral and other sea creatures who need calcium carbonate to build skeletons and shells. Experiments in China have shown that seaweed, which takes in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and is removed from the ocean at harvest, purifies the ocean of acidifying carbon dioxide, providing shelled creatures a safe place to grow. (QZ)

8. Are pesticides contributing to the worldwide increase in diabetes?

In the seemingly never-ending debate over the merits of organic versus conventionally grown food, there is enough scientific research out there to argue fiercely and convincingly on either side. But now you might have a new, surprising reason to be wary of the pesticides in your produce: diabetes. (Fast Co. Exist)

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