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Health News and Reviews

The Health News and Reviews section addresses current health- and lifestyle issues as they are discussed in the press and respective publications. You may search by topic, by key word(s) or by date. At the end of each article, you are invited to leave your own insights, comments or questions.


Weight Issues Not as Harmless as Study May Suggest
Obesity may have multiple negative health effects, but higher mortality rates are not among them, according to a study that was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Researchers found that people with weight problems don’t necessarily have shorter life expectancies than their normal-weight contemporaries. In fact, a few extra pounds could even lower the risk of an untimely death. But that’s not the whole story.
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Life in America More Precarious Than in Other Developed Countries
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise. On average, Americans are in poorer health and have shorter lifespans than the citizens of other affluent countries, including most Western European nations, Australia, Canada and Japan. Considering that close to 50 million people, almost 20 percent of the population, are without health insurance and many more with only limited access to medical services, a decline in public health would seem inevitable. Still, the findings of a recent study by the U.S. government are quite shocking.
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Predictions for 2013 in Food Politics
Food issues are invariably controversial, and anyone could see that nothing would get done about them during an election year. Looking ahead in 2013, expect more to happen. Here are some predictions by guest writer Marion Nestle, PhD, professor for nutrition and food studies at New York University.
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Serving Sizes in Restaurants Still Way Too Big, Study Finds
For the last six years, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group, has given what it calls the annual “Xtreme Eating Awards” to restaurants for serving excessively large portions and using ingredients deemed to be unhealthy. Its findings stand in stark contrast to the changing eating habits of many Americans who have become more health-conscious in recent years and who would choose to eat better and also less if given the chance. For example, at least one third of interviewed restaurant patrons said they would be agreeable to having their portion sizes reduced if such options were offered, according to studies on the subject.
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New Nutrition Facts Labels Aim to Be Less Confusing to Consumers
How many servings do you get out of one muffin? The obvious answer – one – is incorrect. The right amount is two. Why? Because that is how food manufacturers calculate calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, protein and other ingredients. It’s not the individual item or container that counts but how it is divided up, often in the most arbitrary ways. The so-called nutrition facts labels you find on the back of all packaged food and beverage products are not only hard to decipher, they mislead consumers who are already confused about their dietary needs.
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Saving Healthcare Costs Through Prevention May Prove Elusive
75 percent of healthcare costs in the United States come from treating chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. More than half of Americans suffer from one or more of these health problems largely caused by poor eating and lifestyle choices. We can’t continue on the current path if we want to give all Americans the opportunity to become healthier, experts say. Whether spending can be reduced through more preventive measures, however, remains an open question.
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Millions of Americans Take Vitamin Supplements Despite of Doubts Over Benefits
Nearly half of American adults use supplements regularly, generating over $30 billion a year in sales, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). A new study tried to find out why so many people put their trust in supplements despite of much uncertainty over their health effects. What’s even more puzzling is that many supplement users don’t think of supplements as related to nutrition but rather to overall health. It’s almost like a lifestyle issue, according to the study. Typical users are older, eat well, are physically active, manage their weight, don’t smoke, and usually have a higher educational and social status than non-users.
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Your Eating Habits May Keep You from Getting a Good Night’s Rest
Millions of Americans are chronically sleep deprived. There never seems enough time for rest and it takes a toll on people’s health. One often-seen response to sleep deprivation is increased food consumption, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain. While clinical research has long shown connections between sleeplessness and weight problems, a new study has found that diet also influences sleep in ways that were previously not considered. Also, people who sleep fewer hours seem to develop different eating habits and food preferences than those who allow themselves more rest.
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Buying Organic Really Matters
The organic food industry is hot. It’s often the fastest growing section in supermarkets, increasing in sales from $3.6 billion to $24.4 billion between 1997 and 2011. The topic of organic foods has received even more attention recently in response to a study released from Stanford University, which concluded that there isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods.
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