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Asthma, eczema and hay fever may be linked to fast food
January 14th, 2013
04:26 PM ET

Asthma, eczema and hay fever may be linked to fast food

Teenagers and young children who eat fast food could be increasing their risk of developing asthma, eczema and hay fever, according to a study published Monday in the British Medical Journal's respiratory journal Thorax.

The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) study used written questionnaires completed by 319,196 13-  and 14-year-olds from 51 countries and by the parents of 181,631 6- and 7-year-olds in 31 countries.  They were asked if they had symptoms of the three conditions and about their weekly diet - including the types of foods they ate over the last year, and how often.

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Overeating in children may be linked to drug use
December 10th, 2012
02:49 PM ET

Overeating in children may be linked to drug use

Do bad nutrition habits like overeating or binge eating lead to smoking pot? Some health experts think they might, according to a study published Monday.

Habits like overeating have always been known to affect our health, nutritionists say.  In some cases, people say they lose control and just can’t stop. Now scientists are finding that both habits and that feeling of lacking control may lead to other health issues.

Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital studied a group of 16,882 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 15 who participated in the Growing Up Today Study, beginning in 1996. From that time to 2005, investigators sent out questionnaires every 12 to 24 months, asking if these children were overeating or binge eating. Binge eating was defined as eating an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat in the same time span under similar circumstances and feeling a lack of control over eating during that time. Overeating did not have to be connected to loss of control.

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Your food, your vote
A new coalition rates Congress' votes on issues including farm subsidies, food safety and anti-hunger policies.
October 23rd, 2012
09:02 PM ET

Your food, your vote

Editors' note: Tom Colicchio talks about food and your vote on "Sanjay Gupta MD," Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET.

Jobs… Obamacare… Iran… and food?

Voters looking for a reason to support or oppose a candidate will find new ammunition in the first-ever “National Food Policy Scorecard,” created by a coalition of non-profits including environmental advocates, anti-hunger groups and activists including “Top Chef’s” lead judge and restauranteur Tom Colicchio.

“I don’t think the average person thinks this stuff through,” says Colicchio, who sees a link between government policy and what families put on the table.  “When you see people who are struggling, and buying fast food for kids, it’s not because they think it’s great for you.  It’s because it’s cheap.  And it’s cheap because the government subsidizes corn, wheat and soy.  That’s what we’re supporting with our tax dollars.  What if we took that money and put it towards farmers growing fresh, organic vegetables?”
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Your brain on food: Obesity, fasting and addiction
Obese people may be less efficient at making decisions, which could be important for controlling impulse behavior.
October 18th, 2012
10:20 AM ET

Your brain on food: Obesity, fasting and addiction

We all know that what you eat can change your physical appearance. It also alters how your body functions, making it more or less difficult to pump blood, grow healthy bones or process insulin.

New research presented this week at the Neuroscience 2012 conference suggests that what you eat can even alter your brain – and vice versa.

Timothy Verstynen and his colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe the brain activity in 29 adults. The study participants were shown words on a screen in various colors and asked to identify the color, not the word. Sometimes it was easy – the word red printed in red; other times it was harder, like seeing the word red printed in blue.

The overweight and obese participants’ brains showed more activity during difficult questions, suggesting they were working harder to get the same answers.
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Impulse buying isn't (entirely) your fault
Often people regret their impulse purchases, the authors write, but have no way of avoiding the temptation.
October 10th, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Impulse buying isn't (entirely) your fault

Ever gone to the grocery story intending to buy apples and milk and left with a jar of queso dip, a gallon of ice cream and an enormous bag of Halloween candy? Impulse shopping can wreak havoc on your healthy eating plans, but experts say it may not be entirely your fault.

An editorial published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine blames part of the obesity epidemic on our food environment. Dr. Deborah Cohen and Dr. Susan Babey collaborated to write the article "Candy at the Cash Register - A Risk Factor for Obesity and Chronic Disease."

"The reality is that food choices are often automatic and made without full conscious awareness," the authors write. "In many cases they may even be the opposite of what the person deciding would consciously prefer."

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Tomatoes may help reduce stroke risk
October 8th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Tomatoes may help reduce stroke risk

Eating tomatoes in your daily salad or regularly enjoying a healthy red sauce on your spaghetti could help reduce your risk of stroke, according to research published this week in the journal Neurology. 

Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant that is good for brain health, the researchers say, and cooked tomatoes seem to offer more protection than raw.   

"This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke," says study author Jouni Karppi, of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio. "A diet containing tomatoes... a few times a week would be good for our health. However, daily intake of tomatoes may give better protection." 
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Twins show genes may play a role in body image
October 3rd, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Twins show genes may play a role in body image

Blame for a teen’s unhealthy body image often falls on the media. The barrage of size-zero supermodels and waif-like celebrities walking the red carpet could push anyone to curse their shape, right?

A study published this week in the International Journal of Eating Disorders finds a new culprit may also be partially to blame: Our genes.

Researchers wondered why only a small percentage of the population developed an eating disorder when everyone was being exposed to the same images. They hypothesized that certain genes could make a person more or less prone to accepting the “thin ideal.”
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Military leaders: We're still too fat to fight
One in four young adults are too overweight to join the U.S. military, a group of retired military leaders says.
September 25th, 2012
09:02 AM ET

Military leaders: We're still too fat to fight

Childhood obesity isn't just a health issue, according to a group of retired military leaders. It's also a national security issue.

One in four young adults are too overweight to join the U.S. military, a new report from the advocacy group Mission: Readiness says. And the U.S. Department of Defense spends an estimated $1 billion each year on medical care related to obesity issues for active duty members, their dependents and veterans.

"No other major country's military forces face the challenges of weight gain confronting America's armed forces," according to the report.

"At the end of the day, the reason America is safe and sound is not because of its tanks," adds retired Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, spokesman for Mission: Readiness. "It’s really the men and women who volunteer and so proudly serve."

Kids on average consume 130 "empty" calories a day from candy, cookies and chips, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mission: Readiness has been working to get rid of junk food in schools since 2010, when it supported the passing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The act requires the USDA to update nutrition standards in schools.

Mission: Readiness believes having healthier food in the cafeteria and in vending machines will help slow - or even reverse - rising childhood obesity rates. And healthy children are more likely to grow up to be healthy adults who can serve their country.

"We’re not picking on the schools," Seip says. "The schools are part of the solution. We like to think that this obesity problem... is one that’s going to require all of America to tackle."


How to buy healthy food on a tight budget
August 21st, 2012
11:18 AM ET

How to buy healthy food on a tight budget

It’s hard to argue with a $1 double cheeseburger. Perhaps that’s why so many believe that eating healthy is expensive.

The myth has become so pervasive that everyone from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to health care providers is attempting to dispel it. Now the Environmental Working Group is joining in.

The EWG has combined forces with anti-hunger group Share Our Strength to create a healthy shopping guide for low-income households: “Good Food on a Tight Budget.”

The guide contains lists of “best buys” – those that pack the most nutrition for the lowest cost – in each food group, cooking/shopping tips, recipes, a meal planner and a price tracker.
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Dark chocolate may lower blood pressure
A study shows dark chocolate may lower blood pressure slightly.
August 16th, 2012
11:19 AM ET

Dark chocolate may lower blood pressure

Eating a little dark chocolate each day may be good for the heart, but only if you grab your running shoes in one hand and an apple in the other.

New research found that people who ate dark chocolate or cocoa for short periods of time saw a slight drop in blood pressure. But there is a caveat: If you eat these treats, you need to make sure you're doing all of the right things to stay healthy, such as exercising, eating right and - if you're on blood pressure medicine - taking that as well.

The study

Scientists in Melbourne, Australia, curious about the role of dark chocolate in heart health, looked at 20 studies in which adults ate dark chocolate or cocoa. More than 850 people participated in the trials that generally ran from two to eight weeks.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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