Saturday, March 31, 2012

Some Like it Hotter: Working Out In Intense Temperatures

IT was 105 degrees — as hot as a typical steam room — at Pure Yoga on the Upper East Side on a recent Saturday, but for the 16 women already perspiring through a series of plié squats in a ballet-based barre method workout, it wasn’t blistering enough.

“We’re turning it up to 110 degrees by popular demand,” the instructor, Kate Albarelli, 31, announced in the sort of cheerful tone that would usually signal a time to rest. The women looked as delighted as if she’d given them one.

That’s because the heat is on for a workout promising not just the best body, but also the best sweat. A small but growing upscale clientele, most conditioned to years of regular workouts, won’t leave the locker room for much below 90 degrees. (Typical gyms are 68 to 72 degrees, in line with American College of Sports Medicine guidelines; Manhattan’s hottest recorded outdoor temperature is 106.)

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Sitting too much may double your risk of dying, study shows

Need a health boost? You might want to start with getting up from your couch or computer desk.

According to a study in the March 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers discovered that people who sat for 11 hours a day or more were 40 percent more likely to die - from any cause. The researchers also found the odds of dying were 15 percent higher for those who sit between eight to 11 hours a day compared to those who sit less than four hours a day.

Researchers relied on self-reported data from 22,497 individuals 45 years or older from the 45 and Up study, the largest look at aging in the Southern Hemisphere. The study has interviewed over 265,000 men and women across New South Wales and Australia, focusing on about 10 percent of that group for additional data over the coming decades. The researchers determined sitting was associated with a higher death risk after ruling out other factors including gender, age, education, urban/rural residence, physical activity, body mass index, smoking status, self-rated health and disability.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chill Out For A Better Workout

Cooling a person's hands while exercising can make for a better workout, especially for people who hate to exercise because it makes them all hot and sweaty.

This might help the many, many people who have a hard time keeping up with exercise because it's just plain uncomfortable.

Researchers tested the idea with obese women in their 30s and 40s who worked out on a treadmill. The women whose palms were cooled with a device that circulated ice water were able to exercise longer than the women whose palms were exposed to room temperature water.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Problem With Serving Sizes

According to its label, a pint of Häagen-Dazs ice cream contains four servings. But when was the last time you measured out a fourth of a container of Cookies & Cream, then put the rest away for another day?

For many people, the reality is that much of a pint can easily vanish in one sitting. A large package of Cool Ranch Doritos lists a single serving as one ounce, or roughly 12 chips, but it’s hard to imagine keeping count of every last chip as you dig into a bag. And while 160 calories and two grams of saturated fat may sound like a small price to pay for a serving of Oreo cookies, keep in mind that technically speaking, a serving is a paltry three cookies.

In the face of mounting criticism, the Food and Drug Administration has been under pressure for years to force food makers to include more realistic serving-size information on their labels. The agency regulates the serving sizes that can be listed on packages by providing food makers with detailed guidelines to follow, which list the amounts of a specific food that a person would “customarily consume” in a typical sitting. But critics say these so-called reference amounts are often laughably small because they’re based in part on surveys of eating behavior that were carried out in the 1970s, when Americans ate less food and portions had not been supersized.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Does A Chocolate Habit Help Keep You Lean?

A new study finds that people who eat chocolate several times a week are actually leaner than people who don't eat chocolate regularly.

Really, we asked? Last time we checked chocolate was loaded with fat and sugar. But this new research, along with some prior studies, suggests chocolate may favorably influence metabolism.

To test this theory, Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, asked about 1,000 people, ages 20 to 85, a simple question: "How many times a week do you consume chocolate?" The participants then completed food frequency questionnaires to estimate their caloric intakes of a whole range of foods including chocolate. They also had weight and height measurement taken to calculate their body mass index, or BMI.

"In our study, people who ate chocolate more often actually ate more calories," says Golomb. "But in spite of that they had lower [BMI]."

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Surgery on Diabetics May Be Better Than Standard Treatment

For some people with diabetes, surgery may be the best medicine.

Two studies have found that weight loss operations worked much better than the standard treatments to control Type 2 diabetes in obese and overweight people. Those who had surgery to staple the stomach and reroute the small intestine were much more likely to have their diabetes go into complete remission, or to need less medicine, than people given the typical regimen of drugs, diet and exercise, the studies found. The surgery also helped many to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol.

The new studies, published online on Monday by The New England Journal of Medicine, are among the first to to rigorously compare surgery and medicine as ways to control diabetes. Doctors have noticed for years that weight loss operations, also called bariatric surgery, sometimes get rid of Type 2 diabetes.

Better treatments are desperately needed for Type 2 diabetes, experts say. In the United States, the number of diabetes cases has tripled in the past 30 years and now numbers more than 20 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of the cases are Type 2. The disease is also becoming more common in much of the world, with devastating complications like heart disease, blindness, amputations and kidney failure.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why Sleep Deprivation May Lead to Overeating

If traditional weight-loss diets have failed you, you might just try hitting the sack.

Growing evidence has linked healthy weight with getting adequate sleep, and in a new report presented at the American Heart Association’s annual Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism conference, researchers found that sleep deprivation is associated with overeating. In the study, people who were sleep deprived ate more than 500 additional calories daily.

That’s a lot of calories. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that over time, the excess consumption can translate into unwanted pounds — though the current study was small and short-term and did not measure participants’ long-term changes in weight.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dieting companies now targeting men

Jeff Romig kept putting it off.

He knew the doctor would give him bad news. He'd known it for years; he needed to lose weight.
But as he sat in the doctor's office a few weeks ago and listened to his numbers -- cholesterol and blood pressure, both too high -- he resolved to change. This time, he decided to do something different, something drastic.

After 10 years of talking about losing weight without much success, Romig decided to put his health and family first by leaving his high-pressure politics job.

"I knew I was doing the right thing, but I felt terrible," said Romig, 34, who lives in Georgia.

While the tactic might be unusual, Romig is hardly alone in his struggle with weight gain or his reluctance to try to lose it. More than 30% of men older than 20 are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Men face the issue at the same rate as women, but until recently, ads for weight loss products mostly featured female faces and voices. According to ad industry watchers, the female-centric advertising had the inadvertent effect of scaring men away.

Enter a slew of new ads from the biggest names in dieting: Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Sugar seeks sweet revenge against competition from corn

A lawsuit claims false advertising by producers of increasingly popular high fructose corn syrup, whose relation to obesity has come under increased scrutiny.

They are the two bad boys of the American diet, linked to a variety of ailments including obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

But now sugar is taking high fructose corn syrup to court in a landmark battle over which is the greater evil.

In a lawsuit that goes before a Los Angeles federal judge Wednesday, sugar producers accuse their corn industry rivals of false advertising in a campaign that casts the liquid sweetener as "nutritionally the same as table sugar" and claims "your body can't tell the difference."

Sugar forces argue that high fructose corn syrup is far less healthy than their product and are demanding that the ads run by the Corn Refiners Assn. be halted and that the corn association pay unspecified monetary damages.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Supermarkets join move away from 'pink slime' beef filler

At least three national supermarket chains have decided to stop buying ground beef that contains filler popularly known as "pink slime."

Federal regulators say the filler, known in the industry as "lean, finely textured beef," meets food safety standards. But critics say the product could be unsafe and is an unappetizing example of industrialized food production.
Supervalu, which operates and owns stores under the Acme, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher's, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw's/Star Market, Shop 'n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy banners, said Wednesday that customer concern prompted it to stop carrying products containing the filler.

The Food Lion chain, owned by the Belgian Delhaize Group, also said Wednesday that it plans to stop carrying fresh ground beef with either of two similar fillers. Both are made with beef trimmings left over from other cuts. Spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown emailed a statement saying the company is working with suppliers to make the change — and the company guarantees the "80 percent lean ground beef" it already sells doesn't contain the fillers.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why We Eat Less of Foods with Strong Aromas

whiff of a decadent dessert can whet the appetite, but new research suggests that when it comes to the smell of food, you can have too much of a good thing.

In an odd but clever experiment, Rene de Wijk, a sensory scientist at Food & Biobased Research in the Netherlands, decided to investigate how smell affects the amount people eat. Previously, he and his colleagues had determined that the texture of food (what foodies call mouth feel) alters how much people consume — the more viscous and thick a food is, the less they eat with each bite. And the smaller the bite, the less people consume overall.

So de Wijk wondered what other factors might go into bite size. It matters because when we take smaller bites, we tend to process and swallow food faster, which limits the sensory experience of eating — that includes the way food feels, the way it smells and the flavors it releases on our tongue. The end result may be that we feel fuller sooner and put down the fork.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Israeli law eyes super-thin models as bad examples

Told she was too fat to be a model, Danielle Segal shed a quarter of her weight and was hospitalized twice for malnutrition. Now that a new Israeli law prohibits the employment of underweight models, the 19-year-old must gain some of it back if she wants to work again.

Not that she was ever overweight. At 1.7 meters (5-feet-7), she weighed 53 kilograms (116 pounds) to begin with. Feeling pressure to become ever thinner, she dropped another 13 kilograms (29 pounds). The unnaturally skeletal girl weighed 40 kilograms (88 pounds) by then, or about as much as a robust pre-teen, and her health suffered.

The legislation passed Monday aims to put a stop to the extremes, and by extension ease the pressure on youngsters to emulate the skin-and-bones models, often resulting in dangerous eating disorders.

The new law poses a groundbreaking challenge to a fashion industry widely castigated for promoting anorexia and bulimia. Its sponsors say it could become an example for other countries grappling with the spread of the life-threatening disorders.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Calories Are Everywhere, Yet Hard to Track

Americans are having a passionate love affair with something they cannot see, hear, feel, touch or taste. That something is calories, billions upon billions of which are consumed every day, often unwittingly, at and between meals.

Certainly calories are talked about constantly, and information about them appears with increasing frequency on food labels, menus, recipes and Web sites. But few people understand what they are and how they work — especially how they have worked to create a population in which 64 percent of adults and a third of children are overweight or obese, or how they thwart the efforts of so many people to shed those unwanted pounds and keep them off once and for all.

Enter two experts: Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University; and Malden Nesheim, professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. Together they have written a new book, “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics,” to be published April 1, which explains what calories are, where they come from, how different sources affect the body, and why it is so easy to consume more of them than most people need to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Going to Extreme Lengths to Purge Household Toxins

LAURA MacCLEERY was four months pregnant when she parked herself on the couch and started an inventory of the chemicals in her Alexandria, Va., town house. First, Ms. MacCleery, 40, a lawyer and women’s health advocate, collected 70 products in a pile: things like makeup, shampoo, detergents and sink cleaners. Then she typed the names of the cosmetics into an online database called Skin Deep, created by the Environmental Working Group (, a research and advocacy organization.

The results were not comforting. Ms. MacCleery’s $25 lipsticks contained a dizzying brew of chemicals, including ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, a possible endocrine disruptor. “When I bought them, I thought I was doing something special for myself,” she said. “But then it turned out I was probably eating petrochemicals.” The lipsticks went into the trash bag.

For some products, the site listed dozens of exotic chemicals and compounds. There were estrogenic hormones and neurotoxins and bioaccumulators. For other items, there was almost no information at all. What effects could these substances have on her baby? Ms. MacCleery didn’t know and didn’t intend to find out.

By the time the inventory was over, “I threw out, I would say, all but three or four of the items,” she said. “Everything was toxic. Everything.”

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

USDA To Give Schools More Ground Beef Choices After Outcry Over Pink Slime

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has weighed in on the use of so-called pink slime in beef served in the government's free and reduced-price school lunch program.

Today the agency confirmed that it believes the beef product — known in the industry as "Lean Finely Textured Beef" — is safe. Nonetheless, it announced that owing to "customer demand" it will give school food administrators that receive meat through the program the option of ordering beef without it in the next school year.

The defatted beef trimmings that are processed into what critics call pink slime also end up in much of the ground beef sold in supermarkets. But it's impossible for consumers to know that, since USDA doesn't require meat companies to state on the label whether ground beef includes trimmings.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

As White Rice Intake Rises, So May Your Risk for Diabetes

People who eat white rice on a regular basis have a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, a new international analysis contends.

Harvard School of Public Health researchers reviewed the findings of four previous studies conducted in the United States, Australia, China and Japan. None of the participants had diabetes at the start of the studies. Overall, the trials included more than 350,000 participants tracked anywhere from four to 22 years.

Researchers led by Qi Sun found a strong association between eating white rice and type 2 diabetes, and the link was stronger in women than in men, according to the study published online March 15 in the British Medical Journal.

The more white rice a person ate, the greater his or her risk for diabetes. For example, for each serving of white rice (assuming 158 grams/6 ounces per serving) there was a 10 percent increased risk of diabetes, the Harvard team estimated.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dietary Fat Linked to Low Sperm Count

Diets high in saturated fat are bad for waistlines, but they can also have a negative impact below the waist. They may lower sperm count and sperm concentration, according to a new study published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School collected semen samples from 99 mostly overweight or obese men and assessed their diets by asking them how often over the previous year they had certain foods and beverages.

They found that eating a lot of saturated fat was associated with a lower total sperm count and concentration. Diets high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats -- the fats commonly found in fish and plant oils -- were associated with better-quality semen, meaning the sperm cells were of a better size and shape. The study did not determine what particular kinds of saturated fats were linked to sperm count.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Risks: More Red Meat, More Mortality

Eating red meat is associated with a sharply increased risk of death from cancer and heart disease, according to a new study, and the more of it you eat, the greater the risk.

The analysis, published online Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine, used data from two studies that involved 121,342 men and women who filled out questionnaires about health and diet from 1980 through 2006. There were 23,926 deaths in the group, including 5,910 from cardiovascular disease and 9,464 from cancer.

People who ate more red meat were less physically active and more likely to smoke and had a higher body mass index, researchers found. Still, after controlling for those and other variables, they found that each daily increase of three ounces of red meat was associated with a 12 percent greater risk of dying over all, including a 16 percent greater risk of cardiovascular death and a 10 percent greater risk of cancer death.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Getting Fat but Staying Fit?

Does being physically fit counteract some of the undesirable health consequences of being overweight? That question, of pressing interest to those of us who exercise while carrying a few extra pounds, prompted an important new study that focused on aerobic fitness and weight swings.

The study, which was published last month in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, examined health information about more than 3,100 adults who’d visited the Cooper Clinic in Dallas for medical checkups. During the exams, physicians gathered information about each person’s cardiovascular health, including blood pressure, cholesterol profile, abdominal girth and body fat percentage. They also measured the patients’ aerobic fitness using treadmill tests.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Coke and Pepsi alter recipe to avoid cancer warning

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are changing the recipes for their drinks to avoid being legally obliged to put a cancer warning label on the bottle.

The new recipe for caramel colouring in the drinks has less 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) - a chemical which California has added to its list of carcinogens.

The change to the recipe has already been introduced in California but will be rolled out across the US.

Coca-Cola says there is no health risk to justify the change.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fruit and veg 'give healthy glow'

Even a few weeks of eating fruit and vegetables could improve your skin colour, it is claimed.

University of St Andrews researchers monitored diet in 35 people, finding more colouration in those eating more greens.

Other research suggests these changes may make you more attractive.

Other scientists said the study, in the PLoS One journal, might not fully reflect the link between consumption and appearance.

It has been known for some time that certain yellow and red pigments called carotenoids found in many types of fruit and vegetables, can have an effect on skin tone.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

“Miracle Weight Loss” Claims are Nothing More than a Scam

It seems like everywhere you turn, you’re confronted with the ridiculous assertions of the newest “miracle weight loss” scam:

Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!
Melt away fat without exercising!
I lost 10 kilos without even trying!

The rip-off schemes range from somewhat believable to downright silly. There’s the body wrap scam that claims you can swath yourself in bandages and sweat off excess fat (read: temporary water weight.) There’s the humorous abdominal belt scam: you sit, it vibrates, and somehow you lose all your belly fat? If only it were that easy. And of course there’s the classic hoodia hoax. If you ever make it to the Kalahari desert you might be able to try to this supposed appetite suppressant, but most of the pills you’ll find online aren’t real. The bottom line remains: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The Law of Supply and Demand Creates the Diet Scam
It’s not difficult to understand the proliferation of weight loss fraud. The vast majority of the adult population is obese or overweight, and the epidemic is only getting worse. Though most of us know that losing weight is generally straightforward – consume a moderate amount of fresh, whole foods ands stay active – actually doing this is far from simple for most people.

Still desperate to shed the pounds, people search out quick and easy solutions. According to the simple law of supply and demand, the market is riper than ever for each latest, greatest diet scam.

The Long, Dangerous History of Diet Fraud
Diet rip-off schemes are not new. In fact, the quest for the “miracle” diet started nearly a century ago and has been mostly led by the pharmaceutical industry. In the 1930s, doctors prescribed dinitrophenol, an industrial chemical that accelerated metabolism but also caused fatal fevers, fast forming cataracts, and deadly toxicity. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, highly addictive amphetamines – otherwise known as “speed” – were widely prescribed to boost metabolism and suppress appetite.

Currently, the only drug officially approved for long-term weight loss is orlistat, which is sold over the counter as Alli. Alli is hardly a scam – by blocking the absorption of fat, it is conducive to moderate weight loss – but most people find its embarrassing side effects unbearable. The indigestion can be so bad, in fact, that the drug’s manufacturer recommends that first-time users wear dark pants and keep a change of clothes handy. In the endless search for the magic diet pill, the latest development is the drug Qnexa. A government panel recently recommended that the FDA approve the drug despite serious concerns about cardiovascular risks and birth defects.

There’s No Miraculous Quick Fix
Though the diet scam industry will likely always have customers, there’s hope in education, awareness, and support. There’s no magic diet that will instantly cure the obesity epidemic. Rather, we should focus our efforts on finding real solutions. We need to slow down as a society and prepare home-cooked meals. Urge our government to subsidize fresh fruits and vegetables so that they’re affordable for all. Bring reasonably priced grocery stores to underprivileged areas and food deserts. Rather than rewarding rip-offs, we should focus our efforts on creating long-lasting changes that will make it possible for all people to get and stay healthy.

Report: USDA school lunch meat contains "pink slime"

McDonald's and other fast food chains may have gotten rid of "pink slime" from its burgers, but the gooey sounding chemical treatment that removes bacteria from meat is popping up elsewhere: Kids' school lunches.

The Daily reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to buy 7 million pounds of "Lean Beef Trimmings," what many dub pink slime, from Beef Products International (BPI) for the nation's school lunch programs. Though the USDA said in a statement that all meat "meet(s) the highest standard for food safety," many have decried the use of the beef item, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

BPA In Food Packaging: FDA To Decide By March 31

In late February, French lawmakers voted to ban the use of Bisphenol-A (BPA) in all food packaging. It was a gutsy move, putting the health of Europeans ahead of big-business interests. Better still, it may give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the nudge it needs to likewise vote to keep BPA away from Americans’ food and drinks.

BPA, an industrial chemical so ubiquitous it has been found in the urine of 93 percent of Americans, according to the Endocrine-Related Cancer Journal, mimics the female hormone estrogen. In studies, it has been linked to reproductive problems, prostate and other cancers, and problems in fetal brain development. A recent study from Harvard’s School of Public Health found a link between behavioral issues in preschool-age girls and mothers with high BPA levels — the higher the mothers’ BPA levels, the worse their daughters rated on standard behavior tests.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chemical found in cola causes cancer, watchdog warns: What does FDA say?

Can drinking soda cause cancer? A report yesterday from the U.S. consumer watchdog The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said popular sodas contain high levels of a chemical that's used to give cola its caramel coloring - and that chemical could raise a soda-drinkers' cancer risk.

Today U.S. regulators downplayed the report, telling the public that they can continue to drink soda without fearing this ingredient. According to Reuters, the regulators claim that contrary to the public-interest group report, the Ingredient found in cola products from PepsiCo Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and other companies pose no cancerous health risks.

In yesterday's report, the consumer watchdog found Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc's Dr. Pepper and Whole Foods' 365 Cola contained unsafe levels of the coloring Ingredient, 4-methylimidazole or 4-MI. The group estimates the amount of 4-MI in the Coke and Pepsi products tested is causing about 15,000 cancers among the U.S. population.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Kids Don't Mind If You Put Veggies In The Cake

Will kids eat their veggies if they're inside desserts? Parents and nutritionists have been debating this question for years.

Now, it seems there's an answer: Yes, if it's broccoli in the cake. No, if it's chickpeas in the chocolate-chip cookies.

Nutritionists generally hate the idea of "stealth veggies," arguing that children should learn to eat their vegetables and like them, darn it. They got really bent out of shape after reading The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine, and Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld, both of which argued for sneaking veggies into kid-friendly foods.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sleep quality 'improves with age'

The belief that older people tend to suffer worse sleep may be false - in fact the reverse may be true, according to US researchers.

A telephone survey of more than 150,000 adults suggested that, apart from a blip in your 40s, sleep quality gets better with age.

Those in their 80s reported the best sleep, says the study in Sleep journal.

A UK sleep researcher said while poor health could affect sleep, it was a "myth" that age alone was a factor.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Popular Cholesterol Drugs Get New Warnings About Memory, Blood Sugar

If you take a cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin, there's some new safety information you should know about.

A statin might be why you're having trouble remembering things or have been feeling confused, or at least that's what quite a few people taking the drugs have been saying.

So the Food and Drug Administration says new instructions for the drugs will now mention those potential side effects. See your doctor if you have them. Stopping the drugs — which include Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor — usually solves the problem.

The statins may also increase the risk slightly for high blood sugar and for developing Type 2 diabetes, the FDA says. That information will be part of the label for the drugs, too.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Study: Kids get more added sugar from foods than drinks

Kids are gobbling far more added sugars than they should, and processed and packaged foods, not beverages, are the leading source in their diets, new government data show.

They are downing an average of 322 calories a day from added sugars, or about 16% of their daily calories. Boys consume 362 calories a day from them; girls, 282 calories.

The data from the National Center for Health Statistics, released Wednesday, show 59% of added-sugar calories come from foods and 41% from beverages. But soft drinks are still the biggest single source of added sugars in children's diets.

Added sugars include table sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, molasses and other caloric sweeteners in prepared and processed foods and beverages, such as cakes, candy, cookies, muffins, soft drinks, jams, chocolates and ice cream. Not included in this analysis are sugars in fruit and 100% fruit juice.

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