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Americans' Still in Love with SSBs

U.S. population struggling to kick the sugar-sweetened beverage habit.

The National Center for Health Statistics released consumption data (2011-2014) showing almost one-half of U.S. adults drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage every day. Young adults have the highest average intake compared to older adults. Learn more and view the startling statistics by clicking on this link.

PositiveTip: The healthiest drink for most people is plain tap water--it has no  sugar, no calories, and many benefits!

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REM Sleep Prunes Unneeded Connections

Too little REM sleep decreases the ability to remember information.

Researchers have discovered that during REM sleep some of the structures neurons (dendritic spines) use to make connections are actually pruned. Others are strengthened. These findings underscore the role REM sleep plays in enhancing memory of newly learned information. During this phase of sleep the brain actually selects which spines to eliminate and which to keep, thus enhancing memories.

PositiveTip: Sleep on a regular schedule, 7-8 hours per night to maximize the benefits of REM sleep.

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Jet Lag and MLB Performance

Direction of travel makes a difference in performance.

You may have heard that teams traveling eastward are at a greater disadvantage than those traveling westward. A 20 year study of major league baseball (MLB) found teams were 3.5% less likely to win when they traveled eastward across at least two time zones. No significant differences were found when traveling westward. After multivariate analysis, researchers found the failure of the circadian clock to synchronize with the light-dark cycles (circadian misalignment) was the problem, not general travel weariness.

PositiveTip: Try traveling a day or two earlier than your appointments--especially if you must go east.

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FDA Proposes to Limit NNN in Smokeless Tobacco

These rule changes could save thousands of lives.

The potent carcinogen N-nitrosonornicotine (NNN) is a tobacco-specific compound found widely in smokeless tobacco products like snuff and chewing tobacco--causing significantly higher oral cancer risks for users. The proposed new rules will require that NNNs not exceed 1 microgram/g of tobacco (dry weight) and that packaging include a manufacturing code, expiration date, and storage instructions. There is a 75-day period for public comment after formal publication.

PositiveTip: Support these rule changes while recognizing the best way to avoid NNN exposure is to not use these tobacco products.

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Use of Fake Sugar Growing

Use of artificial sweeteners skyrocketing in the U.S.

A cross-sectional study using U.S. NHANES data from 2009-2012 found kids consumption of artificial sweeteners--aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and others--has skyrocketed. In 1999 less than 9% of children consumed low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs). By 2012 that number had grown to 25%, an almost 200% increase. These LCSs are increasing in use among adults as well. Evidence is accumulating that these sweeteners may pose some health risks, but more research is needed.

PositiveTip: Drink water instead of soda, and use a little fresh fruit to sweeten your yogurt.

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Global Smoking Deaths Rising

Eighty percent of current smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

Smoking is responsible for about 6 million deaths per year globally at an estimated associated cost of $1 trillion. An international report projects that by 2030, smoking-related deaths will rise to over 8 million a year! While smoking in the U.S. has fallen to a record low of 15.!% of adults, it has been countered by rising numbers of smokers concentrated among the poor and other vulnerable groups. Just five tobacco companies account for 85% of global cigarette production.

PositiveTip: Fully support all reasonable efforts to control tobacco use!


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Exercise Lowers Depression in School Age Children

Increasing physical activity in grade school may reduce the incidence of depression.

Almost 800 children in Norway were assessed for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at ages 6, 8, and 10 years old. Researchers found those with higher levels of MVPA at 6 and 8 years old experienced fewer symptoms of depression 2 years later. Each hour of MVPA per day resulted in about 0.2 fewer depression symptoms, similar to the results obtained by psychosocial intervention programs.

PositiveTip: Encourage your schools to make certain each day includes time set aside for MVPA.

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Kids Cycle Their Way to Better Behavior

Walking the dog or going for a hike may positively influence behavior!

Harvard researchers found in a randomized control trial of 103 students at a therapeutic day school that aerobic exercises yielded significant behavioral improvements. Those who engaged in cybercycling (stationary bike exercise enhanced by virtual reality) experienced 32-51% lower chances of poor self-regulation and disciplinary time-outs compared to those who did not do cyercycling. There was also evidence of a carry-over effect to days they did not get this specific exercise.

PositiveTip: Behavior in all youth (and adults) would probably benefit from physical activity goals every day!

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Some Exercise Better than None

OA patients improve with 45 minutes of activity per week.

Study participants were placed in one of five quintiles of gait speed and function and followed for 2 years. Those engaging in 45 minutes a week or more of moderate to vigorous activity (highest quintile) saw significant improvement in knee and hip pain (34-38% better). These findings were independent of sex, BMI, and age. This is less stringent than the U.S. federal government recommendation of 150 minutes per week.

PositiveTip: If you have lower limb joint problems you should begin by engaging in 45+ minutes per week of moderate to vigorous exercise.