Friday Edition



U.S. obesity and healthy eating habits have gotten worse since the pandemic, according to a new Gallup report. (Axios)

The obesity rate reached 38.4%, a 6-point rise since 2019 and nearing the record high of 39.9% in 2022. Diabetes cases rose 1.1 points to 13.6%. Since 2019, adults reporting healthy eating dropped from 51.7% to 46.7%.

The pandemic has been blamed for altering health behaviors, leading to worsening eating and exercise habits. Obesity in the U.S. has spiked by about 13 percentage points since 2008, adding an estimated 33 million more obese adults.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found severe childhood obesity rates have gone up.


A large share of America’s mayors are burnt out and overworked, according to a survey of 47 U.S. cities. (Politico)

More than one-third of mayors reported a deterioration in their well-being due to their job. More than half said it was “impossible” or “challenging” to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Roughly 20% said their optimism had decreased after taking office.

Raleigh, NC Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin to Politico:The world has changed a lot and it’s not nicer. I think the atmosphere, the civility factor and the respect factor are different. I definitely noticed something pre-COVID versus post-COVID.”


In 2023, the U.S. population climbed by over 1.6 million to 334.9 million, a 0.5% increase marking the most widespread state growth since the pandemic began, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. (NY Post)

A number of red states, including Texas, Florida and Georgia, saw big population increases. Texas had the largest growth, from 30,029,848 in 2022 to 30,503,301 in 2023. The fastest-growing states were South Carolina (1.7%) and Florida (1.6%).

California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia saw population declines. New York had the largest population decrease, losing 101,984 residents.

A new analysis by the GOP-linked American Redistricting Project cites the latest census data to predict California will lose four Congressional seats after the 2030 Census, while Texas and Florida will gain four and three seats, respectively.


Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman is getting props from Republicans and clashing with fellow Democrats over his unabashed support for Israel and rejection of the “progressive” label. (NYT)

Last month, Fetterman taunted a pro-Palestinian crowd protesting his stance by waving an Israeli flag at them. He has also dismissed ceasefire calls, decorated his office walls with photos of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas and consistently expressed strong support for Israel.

It’s not just his position on Israel that’s upsetting liberal critics: In recent weeks Fetterman has expressed concern about the influx of migrants at the border, called for the ousting of beleaguered Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and criticized young people who get their information from Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.

Fetterman to The New York Times: “What I have found out over the last couple years is that the right, and now the left, are hoping that I die. There are ones that are rooting for another blood clot. They have both now been wishing that I die.”


New Mexico used wastewater testing in over 35 Albuquerque-area high schools to monitor youth drug use and found that nearly 82% of these schools show cocaine use. (WSJ)

Fentanyl was found in 9 out of 38 schools. While no heroin was encountered, opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine, and methamphetamines were detected in many schools. The state plans to test 199 high schools by March.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared drug abuse a public health emergency, citing 1,501 fatal drug overdoses in 2021. A 2022 study found that between 2010 and 2021, adolescent overdose deaths in the U.S. more than doubled from 518 to 1,146, with a 94% spike in 2020 and an additional 20% increase in 2021. There were more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2022, mostly from fentanyl and synthetic opioids.

Other states have struggled with drug abuse issues. Oregon's annual overdose deaths rose by 61% after it decriminalized small quantities of all drugs in 2021.


In case the topic of Donald Trump comes up at the holiday dinner table, here are some notes about the former president.

Economy: Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act boosted domestic business investment, simplified tax filing for millions of American households and lowered tax rates for most filers.

Immigration: Trump was heavily engaged on immigration policy and the border. By one count, he enacted 472 administrative changes on immigration.

SCOTUS: Trump made picking Supreme Court justices a priority, and they’ve delivered numerous conservative wins, including overturning Roe. v. Wade.

Foreign policy: Trump avoided involving the country in major foreign conflicts during his term, but ordered a drone strike on Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in 2020. He also engaged in a trade war with China.

Rhetoric: Some Americans found Trump’s rhetoric refreshing in 2016, but now many find that act’s grown tiresome. 2018 Morning Consult poll found 72% of Americans think Trump tweets too much.

Judgement: Even granting Trump’s argument that the court cases against him are politically motivated, he’s often made it easy for his opponents.

2024 outlook: President Biden’s historically low approval ratings are signs he’s vulnerable in 2024, but Trump is polarizing (he sits at a 53% unfavorable rating).

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