obesity

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    The latest research shines some light on stroke risk, with one new study finding that people who live in the nation's sunniest climates have a 60 percent lower risk of stroke than those who live up north.

    The one exception to the rule: The so-called "stroke belt" of the south, where obesity and diabetes -- both big-time stroke risk factors of their own -- are higher than they are in the rest of the country.

    In other words, all the sun in Georgia won't undo the ravages of a double-extra-large waistline.

    But if you're slim, trim and living in Minnesota or Maine, you don't have to lower your latitude to lower your stroke risk -- because you can harness the real power of sunlight anywhere on earth.

    All you need is some vitamin D, as another new study shows again how the sunshine vitamin is the real reason for that lower stroke risk.

    In this one, researchers found that people who had the highest intake of D were 11 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those with the lowest.

    If that sounds a little... well... unimpressive, that's because the new study didn't offer a real look at D levels. Instead, the researchers used food frequency questionnaires.

    Most people don't get the bulk of their D from food anyway.

    Once you look at real levels of D, you see real benefits -- with other studies showing that low D can boost your stroke risk by up to 50 percent.

    If that's not enough of a benefit, other studies have shown that vitamin D can help protect your heart, bones and brain and slash your risk of colds, the flu, diabetes, allergies and even cancer.

    You can let your body make its own D by stepping out into the sunlight, but unless you live in a warmer climate don't count on that alone. Everything from your clothing to the seasonal angle of the earth can impede D production -- so take a supplement to make sure you get what you need.

  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Weight loss can boost memory

    Have you found that you don't remember quite as well as you used to? You're not alone... but if you've packed on the pounds over the years, the cause of your memory loss might not be in your brain. It could actually be in your belly.

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