obesity

  1. Overeating could ruin your brain

    Empty calories aren't just bad for your belly. They can be downright ruinous for your brain -- and the latest research shows again how people who eat the most have the highest risk of memory problems.

    That means watching what you eat now could be the simplest way to avoid dementia later on.

    Researchers divided some 1,200 seniors between 70 and 89 years old into three categories based on how many calories they ate each day: a third consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories a day, a third chowed down on between 1,526 and 2,143, and the final third ate between 2,143 and 6,000 calories a day.

    Those in that last group had double the risk of mild cognitive impairment compared to the rest of the eaters in the study, even after adjusting for other risk factors like age, education and health history.

    But if you've noticed that the last category was rather broad, you're not alone.

    It seems to me there's a huge difference between someone who eats 2,200 calories a day -- which can be healthy, depending on how you get those calories -- and someone who gorges on 6,000 calories a day... which isn't healthy no matter what you eat.

    Yet in this study, they're both lumped into the same group. In addition, the study was based on food frequency questionnaires -- so those numbers are guesstimates at best.

    But I'm not ready to write this study off yet, either, because there's a clear link between diet and dementia -- and other studies have also found that people who weigh the most have the highest risk of the condition.

    One study found that women with the biggest waistlines in middle age had double the risk of dementia in old age. Another found that men and women alike with the highest levels of abdominal fat have more than triple the risk of dementia of those with the least.

    And yet another study last year found that overweight people see significant improvements in both memory and concentration when they lose weight.

    But if that's not enough of a reason to drop the extra pounds, consider all the other risks that accompany obesity: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression and -- of course -- an early demise.

    If you can avoid all that by eating a little better, I say go for it.

  2. How much sleep does your teen really need?

    Look at all the research on kids and sleep, and two things become clear quickly:

    1) Kids don't need as much as most of us think they do, and
    2) They're still not getting enough anyway.

    One new study looked at 37 sleep guidelines for kids issued since 1897 along with more than 200 studies on how much nightly sleep kids have actually gotten during that time and found a few surprises.

    The number of recommended hours of sleep has decreased over the years, and no matter what those hours are or how much they've decreased, kids always manage to get an average of 37 minutes less.

    Anyone who's ever sent a kid to bed at 8:00 in hopes he or she might actually arrive there by 8:30 (or even 8:37) knows how that is.

    And even a century ago, people blamed technology for all those sleep-avoiding kids, according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

    Once upon a time, it was that newfangled lightbulb. Today, it's all the digital entertainment options kids have literally at their fingertips: videogames, text messages, music downloads and probably a few things we adults don't even know about.

    It's bad news for many kids because too little sleep has been linked to any number of physical and mental issues in people of all ages -- and in kids in particular, poor sleep has been connected to everything from obesity to low test scores.

    But surprisingly, the sleep guidelines that have been issued over the years have been based on little to no actual science.

    And while no one's saying kids should be allowed to play videogames until dawn, a new look at data on 1,724 primary and secondary school students across the country finds that kids between 16 and 18 years old actually do better on less sleep.

    Federal guidelines call for nine hours a night, but researchers found the kids with the highest test scores actually got around seven.

    Younger kids, on the other hand, needed a little more: Between nine and 9.5 hours a night for 10-year-olds and between eight and 8.5 hours a night when they reach the age of 12, according to the study in Eastern Economics Journal.

    Of course, research is one thing -- but people are different. Some need more, some need less. If the child or grandchild in your life is tired all the time, they're obviously not getting what they need.

    And if they're not studying when they're awake, then even perfect sleep habits won't boost the grades.

  3. Get some sun to slash your stroke risk

    I can think of about a million reasons to get outside and bask in the sunlight every day -- but if you're looking for one of your own, how about this: It can slash your risk of a stroke.
  4. A stroke while you sleep

    The only thing scarier than a stroke is having one and not even knowing it. It's the so-called "silent" stroke -- given the name because it comes and goes with no symptoms.
  5. Wrong approach to obesity

    At least we're not getting fatter. The newest obesity numbers are in and, well, this is what passes for victory these days: Americans have had roughly the same rate of obesity for much of the past decade, with a little more than a third of us in need of plus-size clothing.
  6. Sex is safe for heart patients

    Just because you're a heart patient doesn't mean you have to miss out on some Valentine's Day romance. There's still one "do" you can do: If you can climb a flight of stairs without suffering chest pain or a bout of gasping, you can have sex -- even if you had a heart attack just last week, according to the latest advice from the American Heart Association.
  7. An up-close look at apnea

    If just the thought of losing your breath as you sleep is frightening, you should see what it looks like when it really happens.
  8. The trans fat lie harming your health

    Everyone's terrified of trans fats these days, and it's not hard to see why: They've been so vilified that some places are actually banning them. Must be something to it, right? There is -- because the trans fats that come from hydrogenated vegetable oils are every bit as bad as their reputation, and then some: They'll up your odds of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, depression and more.
  9. Playing the name game over sugar

    It's like a battle between two horror movie monsters: In one corner, you've got the corn industry responsible for high-fructose corn syrup as well as all the other corn-based additives used in everything from food to fuel. In the other corner, you've got the "real" sugar industry.
  10. Don't quit your day job -- it might kill you

    There are some clear benefits to working the night shift: higher pay and… well.. OK, there's one clear benefit to working the night shift. And in exchange for more money, you're literally putting your life on the line if you take that night job: Shift work has been linked to obesity, heart disease and more.
  11. Docs: No more TV for tots

    The American Academy of Pediatrics got it all wrong on ADHD with its outrageous new screening guidelines -- but the organization did manage to hit one nail right on the head. And that's with the new advice on television and little kids: Keep it off.
  12. A nation of sugar addicts

    No wonder we're fatter and sicker than ever and getting worse every day: New numbers from the CDC show that half of all Americans over the age of TWO YEARS OLD drink at least one soda a day.
  13. 8 ways to reduce your dementia risk

    There's no surefire way to keep dementia at bay, but there are steps you can take to dramatically slash your risk -- including the following lifestyle changes you can make, starting today.
  14. Apnea in new heart risk link

    But now, researchers say that in addition to leaving you gasping for air in the night, sleep apnea could also be responsible for serious blood vessel abnormalities -- problems that can actually steal blood right from your heart.
  15. Take a stand against sitting

    Too much time on your rear could put your bottom at risk and your life on the line: A new study finds that people who work sedentary jobs have a dramatically higher risk of colorectal cancers.
  16. TV linked to death

    A new study finds that those of us who spend the most time tuned in are most likely to check out early: Two or more hours of TV a day can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and an early death.
  17. Weight loss boosts D in women

    Weight loss can also improve your life in about a thousand other ways, big and small -- and a new study finds yet one more: Obese women who shed the extra pounds have higher blood levels of vitamin D.
  18. Weight loss can ease apnea

    Since this breath-robbing condition is often caused or worsened by obesity, it doesn't take a whole lot of "research" to figure out that losing weight can lead to dramatic improvements.
  19. How office work leads to obesity

    A new study finds that we're spending more time in office chairs than ever before, with 80 percent of us now working at jobs that involve little to no actual movement throughout the day.
  20. Big men, bigger risks

    For men, it can add up to serious health risk--and a new study finds that a combination of extra height and excess weight is a one-two punch that could increase the risk of potentially deadly blood clots.

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