December 24, 2015 8:30 am

Sick notes and six-packs: The top health stories of 2015

WATCH ABOVE: A sick note written for an Alberta teen went viral on Reddit after the doctor says writing it was a waste of time.


What constitutes a ‘health’ story varies widely. In 2015 some of the most popular stories included a doctor’s note that went viral, a pregnant model with six-pack abs and a dangerous new drug trend.

Here’s a look at some of the most read health stories of 2015:

1. Doctor’s Sick Note

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It became the most read doctor’s sick note in Canada. It was written for the employer of Lethbridge teen Kirby Reding and was posted to the website Reddit by his friend, under the username eaglel66. While the note explains Reding’s absence, the doctor goes one step further, suggesting the documentation is a waste of time.

It says the worker had a cold and sensibly stayed home rather than spreading the illness to co-workers. Canadians and physicians both responded with their opinions of sick note policies.

The letter goes on to say:

“I have no test for the common cold and therefore believe him/her, however you feel his time and mine should be wasted by making him sit in the walk in clinic for hours and me spending time writing a sick note that I could be spending on people who genuinely need my attention.”

WATCH BELOW: A poll points out unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office are taking a toll on the health care system. Teri Fikowski reports.

2. What doctors had to say about a pregant model with six-pack abs

Her baby was due in 10 days, but that didn’t stop pregnant model Sarah Stage from showing off her washboard abs and barely-there baby bump.

While plenty of women take pregnancy selfies to document their progress, Stage’s photos stirred up controversy on social media. Some spectators celebrated her toned body, but others questioned the plausibility and safety of her pregnancy.

WATCH ABOVE: Model Sarah Stage faced controversy and criticism for sharing images of her toned pregnant body.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton told ABC News that Stage’s weight gain – the model says she put on 20 pounds – was within reason. Keep in mind, women should gain between 20 and 40 pounds throughout their pregnancy, she added.

“The fact that she looks skinny on Instagram does not mean her baby growth is restricted or too small. It has nothing to do with if you can see her muscles. If her uterus is the perfect size — and she has gained an amount of weight — that is acceptable,” Ashton said.

Hi 🐻 #37weeks .

A photo posted by 🍔SARAH STAGE (@sarahstage) on

In the end, on Wednesday, April 15, Stage welcomed son James Hunter, who weighed a healthy 8 pounds and 7 ounces, and his growth and her fitness have been documented on social media since.

3. Parents issue a fentanyl warning for all families, after Calgary teen nearly dies

A family’s willingness to share a personal story raised awareness about the potentially deadly narcotic fentanyl.  A Calgary teenager suffered brain damage and nearly-died after he tried what he thought was OxyContin for the first time.

Anthony Hampton’s parents discovered their son took one pill, that police believe contained the deadly narcotic fentanyl, after going through the text messages on his cellphone.

WATCH ABOVE: Reg Hampton said he shared his family’s story to warn their own children about the deadly risks of fentanyl. Reid Fiest reports.

Fentanyl is said to be as much as 100 times as strong as morphine. Most people don’t realize they’re taking it: it’s showing up in heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, laced into marijuana and passed off as the prescription drug OxyContin. Two milligrams, an amount as small as two specks of salt, can be enough to kill someone.

READ MORE: Fentanyl fact sheet: what it is and what it does

According to a Facebook post in August by Reg Hampton, a former broadcaster and Anthony’s father, his son’s health has dramatically improved but his recovery is slow and will take time.

4.  A study determined ‘normal’ penis length 

This story generated a lot of interest because it’s something men have wondered about – size. British researchers who conducted an international review that measured the length of 15,000 penises say they’ve figured out the average penis length and circumference in men.

The scientists suggested that men are concerned about the size of their penis – to the point of being “preoccupied and severely distressed.” They even refer to body dysmorphic disorder, which is when people fixate on their real or perceived flaws for hours daily.


So what were the numbers? The average length of an erect penis is 13 centimetres (five inches) while a flaccid penis was nine centimetres (3.6 inches). When it comes to girth, an average erect penis’ circumference is almost 12 centimetres (4.6 inches) in circumference while the width of a flaccid penis clocked in at 9.31 centimetres (3.7 inches).

The researchers note some findings that dispel some rumours – the majority of men: only 2.28 per cent of the male population have abnormally small penises. About the same amount are on the other end of the spectrum with larger than average size.

5. ‘Miracle baby’ born encased in amniotic sac 

It was a rare delivery and doctors said they were in “awe.”

Moments after delivering a baby, a Los Angeles doctor snapped a photo of a newborn who was still inside the amniotic sac, curled up in the signature fetal position.

The first few glimpses of baby Silas Johnson captured by the doctor went viral online: the premature baby is only seconds old and encased in the sac, but you can see the little boy’s fingers and feet pressed up against the clear membrane.

WARNING: The video below contains images that some readers may find graphic.

The amniotic sac is like a fetus’ home for the nine months of gestation. Just before birth it typically breaks and the fluid that cushioned the baby is released – that’s typically the telltale sign that a woman’s about to enter labour, her “water breaking.” Traditionally in C-sections, doctors pierce through the sac in the process of extracting the baby.


Silas’ mom, Chelsea, said she had no idea her baby had caused such a commotion. It wasn’t until hours later that she saw the photos firsthand.

-With files from Carmen Chai, Erika Tucker, Heather Yourex, Phil Heidenreich, Nick Logan, 

© 2015 Shaw Media

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