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The 10 Biggest Health Lessons We Learned in 2016

The 10 Biggest Health Lessons We Learned in 2016

Can energy drinks and alcohol really alter your brain chemistry?

It’s never too late to start eating healthy… or is it?

Breakthrough health studies don’t come around often, but new research is always being conducted to either confirm or disprove the results of existing ones. It’s almost impossible to maintain a handle on all the information being published and presented, but it is possible to evaluate which research offers us the biggest health lessons.

Click here for the The 10 Biggest Health Lessons We Learned in 2016 Slideshow

A lot of the new research of 2016 reiterated lessons we already knew: Stress impacts health, alcohol in moderation may benefit the heart, consuming omega-3 fatty acids can reduce risk of a heart attack. However, some of what we learned surprising, even startling. The finding that a few hours of physical activity at the gym can’t reverse the negative effects of sitting for hours on end is enough to make you rethink your exercise and eating habits; evidence that a glass of red wine may counteract the short-term negative effects of cigarette smoking might have you reaching for a corkscrew (though if you're still smoking, you probably aren't that concerned with a healthy lifestyle anyway).

These "lessons" are meant to be informative, not taken as gospel. Some of the studies that this information comes from use small sample sizes, animal participants, or short time frames, making the results uncertain, but that’s the beauty of scientific research: If the findings are controversial, another group of researchers might continue to challenge what we think we know into 2017.

Here are the 10 biggest health lessons we learned in 2016.


COVID-19 in humanitarian settings and lessons learned from past epidemics

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable people are most likely to be the hardest hit. What can we learn from past epidemics to protect not only refugees but also the wider population?

Although World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” to COVID-19, displaced populations, including refugees, have been stigmatized, scapegoated and neglected in the emergency response. These populations confront substantial vulnerabilities in the context of COVID-19. They often experience substandard living conditions, overcrowding, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and poor health and nutrition, thus substantially increasing their risk of infection 1 . In addition, they may face greater difficulties than the general population in accessing health services 1 and may disproportionately bear the burden of pandemic-control measures, including restrictions on movement and border closures. In humanitarian contexts, conflict, political instability, resource limitations, poor governance, and weak health systems and public-health infrastructures further constrain the ability to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks 2 .

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 196 countries affected by COVID-19 globally, 79 are refugee-hosting countries reporting local transmission 3 . COVID-19 will inevitably spread to displaced communities, and we urgently need to act to mitigate the short-term and lasting effects on displaced populations and the wider community. Our experience with past epidemics and pandemics, including Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, provides important lessons about what to expect and prepare for as we navigate the challenges ahead.


COVID-19 in humanitarian settings and lessons learned from past epidemics

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable people are most likely to be the hardest hit. What can we learn from past epidemics to protect not only refugees but also the wider population?

Although World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” to COVID-19, displaced populations, including refugees, have been stigmatized, scapegoated and neglected in the emergency response. These populations confront substantial vulnerabilities in the context of COVID-19. They often experience substandard living conditions, overcrowding, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and poor health and nutrition, thus substantially increasing their risk of infection 1 . In addition, they may face greater difficulties than the general population in accessing health services 1 and may disproportionately bear the burden of pandemic-control measures, including restrictions on movement and border closures. In humanitarian contexts, conflict, political instability, resource limitations, poor governance, and weak health systems and public-health infrastructures further constrain the ability to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks 2 .

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 196 countries affected by COVID-19 globally, 79 are refugee-hosting countries reporting local transmission 3 . COVID-19 will inevitably spread to displaced communities, and we urgently need to act to mitigate the short-term and lasting effects on displaced populations and the wider community. Our experience with past epidemics and pandemics, including Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, provides important lessons about what to expect and prepare for as we navigate the challenges ahead.


COVID-19 in humanitarian settings and lessons learned from past epidemics

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable people are most likely to be the hardest hit. What can we learn from past epidemics to protect not only refugees but also the wider population?

Although World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” to COVID-19, displaced populations, including refugees, have been stigmatized, scapegoated and neglected in the emergency response. These populations confront substantial vulnerabilities in the context of COVID-19. They often experience substandard living conditions, overcrowding, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and poor health and nutrition, thus substantially increasing their risk of infection 1 . In addition, they may face greater difficulties than the general population in accessing health services 1 and may disproportionately bear the burden of pandemic-control measures, including restrictions on movement and border closures. In humanitarian contexts, conflict, political instability, resource limitations, poor governance, and weak health systems and public-health infrastructures further constrain the ability to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks 2 .

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 196 countries affected by COVID-19 globally, 79 are refugee-hosting countries reporting local transmission 3 . COVID-19 will inevitably spread to displaced communities, and we urgently need to act to mitigate the short-term and lasting effects on displaced populations and the wider community. Our experience with past epidemics and pandemics, including Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, provides important lessons about what to expect and prepare for as we navigate the challenges ahead.


COVID-19 in humanitarian settings and lessons learned from past epidemics

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable people are most likely to be the hardest hit. What can we learn from past epidemics to protect not only refugees but also the wider population?

Although World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” to COVID-19, displaced populations, including refugees, have been stigmatized, scapegoated and neglected in the emergency response. These populations confront substantial vulnerabilities in the context of COVID-19. They often experience substandard living conditions, overcrowding, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and poor health and nutrition, thus substantially increasing their risk of infection 1 . In addition, they may face greater difficulties than the general population in accessing health services 1 and may disproportionately bear the burden of pandemic-control measures, including restrictions on movement and border closures. In humanitarian contexts, conflict, political instability, resource limitations, poor governance, and weak health systems and public-health infrastructures further constrain the ability to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks 2 .

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 196 countries affected by COVID-19 globally, 79 are refugee-hosting countries reporting local transmission 3 . COVID-19 will inevitably spread to displaced communities, and we urgently need to act to mitigate the short-term and lasting effects on displaced populations and the wider community. Our experience with past epidemics and pandemics, including Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, provides important lessons about what to expect and prepare for as we navigate the challenges ahead.


COVID-19 in humanitarian settings and lessons learned from past epidemics

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable people are most likely to be the hardest hit. What can we learn from past epidemics to protect not only refugees but also the wider population?

Although World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” to COVID-19, displaced populations, including refugees, have been stigmatized, scapegoated and neglected in the emergency response. These populations confront substantial vulnerabilities in the context of COVID-19. They often experience substandard living conditions, overcrowding, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and poor health and nutrition, thus substantially increasing their risk of infection 1 . In addition, they may face greater difficulties than the general population in accessing health services 1 and may disproportionately bear the burden of pandemic-control measures, including restrictions on movement and border closures. In humanitarian contexts, conflict, political instability, resource limitations, poor governance, and weak health systems and public-health infrastructures further constrain the ability to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks 2 .

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 196 countries affected by COVID-19 globally, 79 are refugee-hosting countries reporting local transmission 3 . COVID-19 will inevitably spread to displaced communities, and we urgently need to act to mitigate the short-term and lasting effects on displaced populations and the wider community. Our experience with past epidemics and pandemics, including Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, provides important lessons about what to expect and prepare for as we navigate the challenges ahead.


COVID-19 in humanitarian settings and lessons learned from past epidemics

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable people are most likely to be the hardest hit. What can we learn from past epidemics to protect not only refugees but also the wider population?

Although World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” to COVID-19, displaced populations, including refugees, have been stigmatized, scapegoated and neglected in the emergency response. These populations confront substantial vulnerabilities in the context of COVID-19. They often experience substandard living conditions, overcrowding, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and poor health and nutrition, thus substantially increasing their risk of infection 1 . In addition, they may face greater difficulties than the general population in accessing health services 1 and may disproportionately bear the burden of pandemic-control measures, including restrictions on movement and border closures. In humanitarian contexts, conflict, political instability, resource limitations, poor governance, and weak health systems and public-health infrastructures further constrain the ability to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks 2 .

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 196 countries affected by COVID-19 globally, 79 are refugee-hosting countries reporting local transmission 3 . COVID-19 will inevitably spread to displaced communities, and we urgently need to act to mitigate the short-term and lasting effects on displaced populations and the wider community. Our experience with past epidemics and pandemics, including Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, provides important lessons about what to expect and prepare for as we navigate the challenges ahead.


COVID-19 in humanitarian settings and lessons learned from past epidemics

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable people are most likely to be the hardest hit. What can we learn from past epidemics to protect not only refugees but also the wider population?

Although World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” to COVID-19, displaced populations, including refugees, have been stigmatized, scapegoated and neglected in the emergency response. These populations confront substantial vulnerabilities in the context of COVID-19. They often experience substandard living conditions, overcrowding, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and poor health and nutrition, thus substantially increasing their risk of infection 1 . In addition, they may face greater difficulties than the general population in accessing health services 1 and may disproportionately bear the burden of pandemic-control measures, including restrictions on movement and border closures. In humanitarian contexts, conflict, political instability, resource limitations, poor governance, and weak health systems and public-health infrastructures further constrain the ability to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks 2 .

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 196 countries affected by COVID-19 globally, 79 are refugee-hosting countries reporting local transmission 3 . COVID-19 will inevitably spread to displaced communities, and we urgently need to act to mitigate the short-term and lasting effects on displaced populations and the wider community. Our experience with past epidemics and pandemics, including Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, provides important lessons about what to expect and prepare for as we navigate the challenges ahead.


COVID-19 in humanitarian settings and lessons learned from past epidemics

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable people are most likely to be the hardest hit. What can we learn from past epidemics to protect not only refugees but also the wider population?

Although World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” to COVID-19, displaced populations, including refugees, have been stigmatized, scapegoated and neglected in the emergency response. These populations confront substantial vulnerabilities in the context of COVID-19. They often experience substandard living conditions, overcrowding, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and poor health and nutrition, thus substantially increasing their risk of infection 1 . In addition, they may face greater difficulties than the general population in accessing health services 1 and may disproportionately bear the burden of pandemic-control measures, including restrictions on movement and border closures. In humanitarian contexts, conflict, political instability, resource limitations, poor governance, and weak health systems and public-health infrastructures further constrain the ability to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks 2 .

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 196 countries affected by COVID-19 globally, 79 are refugee-hosting countries reporting local transmission 3 . COVID-19 will inevitably spread to displaced communities, and we urgently need to act to mitigate the short-term and lasting effects on displaced populations and the wider community. Our experience with past epidemics and pandemics, including Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, provides important lessons about what to expect and prepare for as we navigate the challenges ahead.


COVID-19 in humanitarian settings and lessons learned from past epidemics

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable people are most likely to be the hardest hit. What can we learn from past epidemics to protect not only refugees but also the wider population?

Although World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” to COVID-19, displaced populations, including refugees, have been stigmatized, scapegoated and neglected in the emergency response. These populations confront substantial vulnerabilities in the context of COVID-19. They often experience substandard living conditions, overcrowding, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and poor health and nutrition, thus substantially increasing their risk of infection 1 . In addition, they may face greater difficulties than the general population in accessing health services 1 and may disproportionately bear the burden of pandemic-control measures, including restrictions on movement and border closures. In humanitarian contexts, conflict, political instability, resource limitations, poor governance, and weak health systems and public-health infrastructures further constrain the ability to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks 2 .

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 196 countries affected by COVID-19 globally, 79 are refugee-hosting countries reporting local transmission 3 . COVID-19 will inevitably spread to displaced communities, and we urgently need to act to mitigate the short-term and lasting effects on displaced populations and the wider community. Our experience with past epidemics and pandemics, including Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, provides important lessons about what to expect and prepare for as we navigate the challenges ahead.


COVID-19 in humanitarian settings and lessons learned from past epidemics

In the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable people are most likely to be the hardest hit. What can we learn from past epidemics to protect not only refugees but also the wider population?

Although World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” to COVID-19, displaced populations, including refugees, have been stigmatized, scapegoated and neglected in the emergency response. These populations confront substantial vulnerabilities in the context of COVID-19. They often experience substandard living conditions, overcrowding, limited access to safe water and sanitation, and poor health and nutrition, thus substantially increasing their risk of infection 1 . In addition, they may face greater difficulties than the general population in accessing health services 1 and may disproportionately bear the burden of pandemic-control measures, including restrictions on movement and border closures. In humanitarian contexts, conflict, political instability, resource limitations, poor governance, and weak health systems and public-health infrastructures further constrain the ability to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks 2 .

According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 196 countries affected by COVID-19 globally, 79 are refugee-hosting countries reporting local transmission 3 . COVID-19 will inevitably spread to displaced communities, and we urgently need to act to mitigate the short-term and lasting effects on displaced populations and the wider community. Our experience with past epidemics and pandemics, including Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome, provides important lessons about what to expect and prepare for as we navigate the challenges ahead.