TIME — Artificial sweeteners are linked to weight gain— not weight loss
Artificial sweeteners might seem like a low- or no-calorie way to enjoy sweet food and not gain weight. But a new study links them to the opposite. In the report, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers analyzed 37 studies on artificial sweeteners to see if they were successful for weight management. The studies followed more than 400,000 people for about 10 years. Seven of the studies were randomized controlled trials, a type considered to be the gold standard in scientific research. Artificial sweeteners did not appear to help people lose weight. Instead, observational studies that looked at consumption over time suggested that people who regularly consumed them—by drinking one or more artificially-sweetened beverage a day—had a higher risk for health issues like weight gain, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The Washington Post — ‘It’s raining needles’: Drug crisis creates pollution threat
They hide in weeds along hiking trails and in playground grass. They wash into rivers and float downstream to land on beaches. They pepper baseball dugouts, sidewalks and streets. Syringes left by drug users amid the heroin crisis are turning up everywhere. In Portland, Maine, officials have collected more than 700 needles so far this year, putting them on track to handily exceed the nearly 900 gathered in all of 2016. In March alone, San Francisco collected more than 13,000 syringes, compared with only about 2,900 the same month in 2016. People, often children, risk getting stuck by discarded needles, raising the prospect they could contract blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis or HIV or be exposed to remnants of heroin or other drugs.

STAT News — Climate change could drive dust storms and disease
A new model of climate change in the U.S. finds dust storms might pick up in the second half of this century — and bring sweeping changes to public health. Existing climate models suggest that rising greenhouse gases will drive drought and deforestation in parts of the country, creating the perfect conditions for dust storms that kick soil particles up into the atmosphere. So government climate scientists teamed up with researchers at Princeton to create a model of potential dust storms, and found there may be a rise in their prevalence in the southern Great Plains in coming decades. That’s of particular concern for public health, because heavy dust exposure can contribute to serious respiratory disease. It’s just a model, which means, of course, it can change. But the scientists say their predictions should serve as an early warning to find ways now to manage those future risks.

Kaiser Health News — Analysis: Senate’s latest health blueprint cuts cost at the expense of chronically ill
The latest Senate health proposal reins in costs by effectively splitting the individual insurance market, with healthy people diverted into stripped-down plans and chronically ill individuals left with pricey and potentially out-of-reach options, insurance analysts said. This draft — a fresh attempt by the Republican Party to undo the Affordable Care Act — injects more uncertainty into plans for people with preexisting conditions such as cancer, asthma, diabetes or other long-term ailments. Those people, insured through ACA marketplaces now, could be more isolated than in an earlier version of the Senate bill. For such patients, “I would be pretty nervous,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. “You will have separate pools — one that only healthy people can get into and one for you. That pool is liable to get increasingly expensive — in fact, very expensive over time.”

The Hill — Study: U.S. health care system is worst among 11 developed nations
The U.S. healthcare system is ranked the worst among 11 developed nations, according to a new study. The Commonwealth Fund measured elements including care, access, administrative efficiency, equity and healthcare outcomes in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Its analysis found the U.S. spent the most money on healthcare and also ranks poorly in terms of access, equity and healthcare outcomes. Nearly half of low-income Americans, 44 percent, were found to have trouble getting access to healthcare coverage, while just 26 percent of high-income Americans were found to have issues getting coverage.