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Public Smoking Bans Save Lives

Preliminary results link smoking bans with reduced cardiovascular disease.

Michigan's state-wide ban on indoor smoking may have helped save lives. American College of Cardiology researchers found that cardiovascular disease related hospitalizations reduced by 2% from 65,329 people to 64,002. On top of these 1,327 lives affected, in-hospital deaths related to cardiovascular disease decreased by 0.38%. The study wasn't able to eliminate all potential confounders, but adds to growing evidence for the potential benefits of public smoking bans.

Positive Tip: Support local efforts to eliminate smoking indoors and seek help in quitting if you smoke.

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Physical Activity Keeps Kids Fit

Elementary school kids who did not participate in exercise gained weight.

Physical education has declined dramatically in most elementary schools. Researchers found that a 9-month, after school exercise program for 8 and 9 year old elementary school children improved their physical fitness and helped them control their weight. The control group showed no improvements. This program provided moderate to vigorous physical activity 5 times per week.

PositiveTip: Provide your children regular physical activity--even if school does not.

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TV Portrayals of Smoking Influences Adults

Reduction of smoking instances on prime time TV associated with less adult smoking.

Kids tend to start smoking more often when they are exposed to tobacco advertising. Tobacco use on television also seems to influence adults. Researchers found as smoking was shown less on prime time TV from 1955 to 2010 (five smoking instances per hour to 0.29 per hour), U.S. adults smoked less. This reduction was half that attributed to raising cigarette taxes over the same period.

PositiveTip: Avoiding exposure to smoking (and other harmful habits) may reduce cravings and encourage positive change.

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Fat Teens Have Shorter Lives

Obese kids and adolescents appear to face an early death.

Adults who were overweight or obese during their adolescence were significantly more likely to die before reaching 50 years old than their normal-weight peers. While life-expectancy gains of the last 50 years have been very encouraging, this analysis of more than 2 million Israelis from ages 17 to 50 suggests this progress may be wiped out as a result of the obesity epidemic of today.

PositiveTip: Parents must do all they can to encourage their kids to maintain a healthy weight.

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Chalk-up More Benefits to Lifestyle Change

Lifestyle intervention can reduce the long-term risks of diabetes.

A 23 year follow-up of 6-years of lifestyle intervention among a group of patients who had impaired glucose tolerance in China found a 45% lower risk of diabetes and a 41% reduction in cardiovascular mortality. Patients were randomized to diet-only, exercise-only, both diet and exercise or standard medical care groups. There were some marked gender differences, and the authors suggested men may not have been as adherent.

PositiveTip: Choose an active lifestyle and a healthy diet for good long-term outcomes!

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Longevity Linked to Plant-rich Diets

Moms are right: Eat your fruits and veggies!

Consuming seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily reduced all-cause mortality, cancer and cardiovascular disease according to a large British study. The average consumption was just under four portions per day. It is not hard to eat seven servings as the standard portion size for most fruits and vegetables is one-half cup. This study also found that canned fruits are linked with increased mortality, possibly because of the high sugar content.

PositiveTip: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, mostly fresh, for a healthy life.

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Small, Frequent Meals Don't Burn More Calories

Eating many meals a day does not boost metabolism.

The recommendation of small, frequent meals is popular among those trying to shed pounds. A British study found that obese women give two or five meals each day with exactly the same number of calories burned the same amount of energy. However, the obese women accumulated significantly higher levels of endotoxins (gut bacteria fragments) after eating five meals compared to two meals.  These endotoxins cause inflammation and may raise the risk of type-2 diabetes and heart disease.

PositiveTip: Count your calories to lose weight--it works!

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Extremes In Weight Increase Risk of Death

Underweight or overweight – both are hazardous to your health.

A recent meta-analysis of 51 studies comparing BMI and all-cause mortality found that underweight people are 1.8 times more likely to die than people with a healthy BMI. The same risk of death is 1.2 for obese people and 1.3 for severely obese people. The findings controlled for smoking, alcohol use or lung disease and excluded patients with existing chronic or terminal illness.

PositiveTip: Maintain a healthy weight through healthy diet and regular exercise to avoid an early death.

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Bonus Benefits to Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking can improve mood and reduce risk of other addictive behaviours.

New research has found that smokers who quit may have greater success in addressing mental health or addiction issues. Based on surveys from 35,000 people, researchers found that people who quit smoking were 33% less likely to have mood disorders, 36% less likely to have alcohol problems and 69% less likely have drug problems than those who continue smoking.

Positive Tip: Let the "snowball effect" work for you. Quitting smoking may give you greater success in addressing core health issues.

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Eat Well, Think Well

Your dietary choices may influence your risk of depression.

Depression is a common and serious mental disorder. A new 21-study meta-analysis of diet and depression found that eating a healthy diet (high fruit, vegetable and whole grain intake) lowered the risk of depression by 16% compared to the average. A"western diet" (high in refined grains, processed meat, snack foods high in sugar and saturated fat) raised the risk by 17%. A very interesting association, but not yet causal proof.

PositiveTip: Eat a healthy diet and get exercise--it could help reduce your risk of depression.