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STAYING HEALTHY

Healthy lungs

Parents should pay attention to grades to keep kids from smoking, study says

If you want to keep your kids from smoking, education is the best route. A recent study from the University of Copenhagen showed that above-average performance in school decreases a child’s likeliness to smoke later in life. The study, conducted by Copenhagen’s Institute of Public Health, also showed that coming from a poor background increases your likelihood to smoke. Yet, even if you are poor, if you perform well in school, you are less likely to smoke.

The study looked at more than 20,000 school children from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and the UK. Researchers noted a couple key points from their study. First, they said it is important for teachers to pay attention to children from poorer families. Success to them may mean more than success to a child from a well-off family. The study, which was published in the International Journal for Equity in Health, showed that poorer students can greatly benefit from successful schooling.

Healthy eating

Wealthy people more likely to eat healthy, spend more in the process

If you have more money in your pocket, chances are you’re spending more at the grocery store for the same types of food. A recent study from the University of Washington shows that wealthier people have much healthier eating habits, but they also spend much more money to achieve that. The study tracked more than 160 adults. Researchers recorded what the participants ate and how much the food they bought cost at the store. The researchers measured the foods by density, or how much energy the food contains per a weight unit.

For example, fast foods, candy and desserts have a high density, because they contain a bevy of calories per weight unit. Vegetables, fruit and meats have a lower density. Clearly, a person looking to eat healthy would go for low-density foods, the study found. These types of foods result in lower rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and even some types of cancer while the high density contributes to weight gain, high blood pressure and other diseases. To come to these conclusions, researchers stuck participants on very strict and detailed eating plans. They ate only 152 foods and 22 beverages, and they were all carefully portioned. The lower density diet plans were much more costly.

Nutrition

Study says newest fast food health enemy is sodium

It’s common sense a fast food meal will likely boast high levels of fat and calories to go along with that happy meal. A recent study from the Center for Science in the Public Interest found another guilty culprit in the fast food bag — salt. Researchers said that even fast food items low in sugar and fat can be deceiving. When those are lacking, salt is usually added to compensate for the lost flavor, researchers aid.

The study found that many popular fast food items have about five times the daily recommended sodium intake. The study noted that salt, among other things, can lead to heart disease and drastically raise your blood pressure.

Diet

Study says face-to-face advice just as effective as expensive weight loss help

Dieting can be expensive. You can buy one of those fad diets you see on TV, or you could cough over big bucks for a nutritionist. A recent New Zealand study says all that money might be going to waste. The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, says that cheap, old-fashioned, face-to-face weight loss support can be just as effective as expensive programs and diet plans. For the study, researchers tracked 200 people who ranged in age from 25 to 70. In the end, they found that the participants found simple support from a nurse to be as effective as the more costly and detailed consultation from exercise specialists and dietitians. To gauge the effect, they enlisted the participants after they had already lost weight.

Then, they subjected some of them to the more expensive alternatives, while the others simply talked to nurses about their ongoing efforts to keep the weight off. For two years after the weight loss, the nurse group visited the nurse every other week, and received phone calls on off-weeks. In the end, researchers found no measurable difference in the participants’ ability to keep off the weight.

In other words, the expensive programs and weight-loss programs didn’t provide an advantage over a simple face-to-face meeting with a nurse. Researchers stressed that this is one way to go about combating the weight-gain epidemic, as simple and constant support suffices and is comparable to expensive alternatives.

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