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Teens who sleep too little could be at risk for packing on pounds

Obesity has been linked to several lifestyle factors, including sleep. Studies have shown a connection between lack of sleep and higher body mass index in adults and children, but that relationship may hold true for teens as well. A new study presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver in early May showed an association between sleep deprivation and a higher BMI. Researchers looked at data on 723 adolescents, average age about 15, and gave each one an accelerometer, which measures movement. The study participants were ...

Grocery customer donates kidney to his favorite cashier

CHICAGO — A month ago, Dan Coyne knew just two things about a cheerful cashier who worked at Jewel-Osco in Evanston: her first name and her need for a new kidney. On Friday, however, their lives became inextricably linked after Coyne donated one of his healthy kidneys to Myra de la Vega, of Evanston, a Filipino immigrant and single mother of two teenagers. The daylong organ transplantation took place at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Kovlar Organ Transplantation Center, which performs about 170 living-donor transplants a year and is one of the ...

Guard against the gray

Most gray hairs are unavoidable, the result of aging and genetics. But doctors and hairdressers say there are steps you can try to fight premature loss of pigment: Stop smoking. Studies show cigarettes speed up the aging process throughout the body, including your hair. Work to lower stress. While evidence isn’t conclusive, many believe anxiety can help trigger graying. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, make time for enjoyable hobbies and try meditation or deep breathing exercises.

Everyone needs annual flu shots, government committee concludes

ATLANTA (AP) — A government panel is now recommending that virtually all Americans get a flu shot each year, starting this fall. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices had gradually been expanding its recommendation for flu shots — 85 percent of Americans were already included.

NCW counties on opposite ends of health scale

NCW — Okanogan and Douglas counties may be neighbors, but a new ranking puts them at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to health. Douglas County was named the second healthiest county in Washington in a first-ever county-by-county health report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute last week. It’s just below top-ranked San Juan County.
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Marijuana use by seniors goes up as boomers age

MIAMI — In her 88 years, Florence Siegel has learned how to relax: A glass of red wine. A crisp copy of The New York Times, if she can wrest it from her husband. Some classical music, preferably Bach. And every night like clockwork, she lifts a pipe to her lips and smokes marijuana. Long a fixture among young people, use of the country’s most popular illicit drug is now growing among the AARP set, as the massive generation of baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s and ...

Study offers nuanced view of abstinence education

PHILADELPHIA — Proponents of abstinence-only sex education declared victory earlier this month after a study from the University of Pennsylvania found that a program for Philadelphia sixth- and seventh-graders deterred young teens from having sex. Abstinence Clearinghouse, an advocacy group, proclaimed on its Web site that the study proved “comprehensive sex ed a big flop.”
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No excuses exercises to do from the comfort of home

Going to the gym is such drudgery. You have to drag your lazy butt off the couch, make yourself presentable, then haul yourself out the door. But what if you didn’t have to leave your home? What if you didn’t even have to leave your couch? That you can wear a tattered Three Stooges T-shirt and stained sweat pants is just gravy.

Teen moms surprised by pregnancies

ATLANTA — A new government study suggests a lot of teenage girls are clueless about their chances of getting pregnant. In a survey of thousands of teenage mothers who had unintended pregnancies, about a third who didn’t use birth control said the reason was they didn’t believe they could pregnant.

Pain, anxiety keeping us up, new poll says

LOS ANGELES — If you suspect you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re probably right: A new survey says 83 percent of Americans don’t get a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis. Why not? Stress and anxiety were cited as the top reason by 48 percent of the 1,008 adults interviewed by the polling firm Harris Interactive. In addition, 47 percent of those surveyed said they simply weren’t able to turn off their thoughts.

Fitness corner

You may have noticed it on the fringes of your gym: the trainer coaxing a client to stand on a squishy Bosu ball while simultaneously lifting dumbbells; or, back on terra firma, the muscly type who's not just lifting a sizable amount of weight but kind of jumping and shrugging to heave it from the floor to shoulder level or higher.

Fitness corner: What’s under your shirt? An ab-solute disappointment?

The annual Beach Body propaganda begins sometime in the dead of winter. That's when the prospect of summer sex appeal is used to mount a crusade for the grail we're all supposed to covet: washboard abs, chiseled, chain-mail six-packs that channel sweat like Paul Newman on a shirtless road gang or that tuck inside a swimsuit in sleek silhouette.

Exercise Q&A: Breaking the boredom barrier

Q: I’ve recently changed gyms. However, I’m discovering the new gym and I are a poor fit. I need more variety. At my former gym, I had access to a pool, indoor running track and group classes as well as the usual assortment of cardio machines and weights. At the new gym I’m left with only the (admittedly excellent selection of) cardio machines and weights. I’m not able to do much cardio outside due to exercise-induced asthma. Do you have any tips for staying motivated on a cardio machine for ...
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Caffeine and kids: A safe mix?

Caffeine-infused waffles and maple syrup are being promoted as energizing alternatives to a morning mug of coffee. But the recent craze of adding caffeine to a range of kid-friendly snack foods — including popcorn, chewing gum, candy bars, mints, Cracker Jacks, jelly beans and ice cream — is raising enough concern that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched an investigation of caffeine’s possible health effects on children and adolescents.

Daily sunscreen use slows signs of aging skin

LOS ANGELES — As if reducing the threat of skin cancer was not enough, scientists report that they have shown using sunscreen daily can slow the signs of aging skin — even into middle age. Skin ages as people age, obviously. The sun is a major culprit in the skin’s deterioration. Signs include wrinkles, of course, but also deterioration in texture and an increase in visible blood vessels.

Study: Babies born after moms’ weight loss surgery are healthier

WASHINGTON — Of the many powers mothers wield, few are more extraordinary than the power to nudge a child’s health prospects in one direction or another simply by having incubated that child in her womb. Research is uncovering more and more instances in which a pregnant woman’s own health issues powerfully influence those of her child. A new study demonstrates this is especially true of her weight status, and shows that weight-loss surgery can change the picture dramatically. Research has already shown that the children that obese women bear before ...