serious health problems

  1. Diet soda linked to weight gain

    If the FDA won't go after diet sodas for all the dangerous chemicals they contain, maybe the FTC can take action for false advertising.

    There's nothing "diet" about diet sodas. After all, studies have linked them to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart problems, and more.

    And now, yet another study confirms that people who drink the most diet soda have the biggest bellies.

    Researchers from the University of Texas medical school examined data on 474 seniors who took part in the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging, and found that the waistlines of those who drank diet soda grew 70 percent more than those who didn't drink the stuff during the average follow-up of nearly 10 years.

    And the more they drank, the more they grew: The researchers say those who drank two or more diet sodas a day had five times the increase in belly size than those who drank no soda, according to the study presented at a recent American Diabetes Association meeting.

    In real terms, that means a diet soda habit will put you into pants with a waistline two inches bigger than the ones you're wearing now.

    So much for "diet."

    The researchers didn't stop there. They also found a link between aspartame -- the main sweetener used in diet sodas --and diabetes.

    Researchers fed mice prone to diabetes either a high-fat diet or a high-fat diet with aspartame for three months, and found that the rodents that got the sweetener had higher levels of fasting glucose.

    The researchers say these mice were essentially prediabetic.

    But no one should be surprised by any of this, because diet soda has been linked to serious health problems time and again.

    One recent study found that women who drink the most diet soda have a 61 percent higher risk of vascular events such as heart attack and stroke than women who don't drink diet soda.

    Another recent study found that the caramel color used in both diet and regular sodas contains high levels of chemical compounds linked to cancer.

    In addition, soda cans are lined with BPA -- the hormone-like chemical linked to everything from obesity to sexual problems.

    Of course, sugar-packed regular soda is every bit as bad for you -- and don't buy into the hype over "real sugar" colas or Mexican Coke.

    If you just have to have to have some fizz in your water, try plain old seltzer instead.

    No one's ever gotten fat or sick on that.

  2. TV linked to death

    I always figured shows like "Jersey Shore" killed more brain cells than marijuana... but it turns out that death risk extends to the rest of your body too.

    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.

    Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health looked at data from eight studies that tracked more than 200,000 people combined for 7 to 10 years.

    And what they found should be enough to make anyone reach for the "off" button: Every two hours of daily screen time increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent, heart disease by 15 percent, and death itself by 13 percent.

    That's during the study period, of course -- we're all guaranteed death at some point. The trick is putting it off as long as you can... even if that means resisting the temptation to see how Ashton Kutcher does on "Two and a Half Men."

    This isn't the first time TV has been linked to serious health problems. One recent study found that people who watch four or more hours a day face an 80 percent boost in the odds of heart disease and 46 percent increase in the risk of an early death. (Read more here.)

    And plenty of other studies have found that kids who are glued to the tube risk obesity, developmental problems, social issues, and trouble with schoolwork.

    One study I told you about earlier this spring even found that kids between the ages of 6 and 7 who watch the most TV already show some of the earliest warning signs of heart disease.

    Of course, the real problem exposed by all these studies isn't Ashton Kutcher, the dregs of "Jersey Shore" or even the TV itself.

    The problem is what we do while we watch: Nothing, often with bag of chips or box of cookies within close reach.

    If you really want to save yourself, ditch the TV and the snacks and take up a hobby that involves regular movement
    instead.

    And if you really feel the urge to check in on "Jersey Shore," at least limit your viewing to a few hours a week instead of a few hours a day.

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