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Caffeine and Kids’ Sleep
A recent article in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests that caffeine may be disrupting teenagers’ sleep. A survey of seventh, eighth and ninth graders showed that the more the caffeine the kids consumed, the less they slept at night and the more they slept during the day.

Remember, caffeine doesn’t just come from coffee. There’s also caffeine in soft drinks, and the study notes that soda machines in schools, while popular among students, may not be beneficial.

The article suggests, “Limitation of the availability of caffeine to teenagers should therefore be considered.”

Source: Pediatrics, January 2003

Addicted to eating?
There are conflicting theories on whether a person can technically be addicted to eating, but there’s no question that there are people who feel as if their eating is out of control. Some signs that you suffer from compulsive eating:

  • You look forward to eating alone
  • You plan eating binges ahead of time
  • You eat when you’re not hungry
  • You think about food an awful lot

There are options out there for people who want to get their eating under control—12-step programs, talking with a counselor to uncover reasons why you overeat, talking with your doctor.

Explore the possibilities to find the approach that’s right for you.

Source: Overeaters Anonymous

Chocolate: Good or Bad?
It’s too bad that chocolate’s not a health food, considering the way people love it. Facts are facts: chocolate is high in fat and calories. 

There’s a bright side: chocolate has phenolics. Phenolics are antioxidants, and they are also found in red wine, fruit, tea and coffee. You may have heard that a little red wine can be healthy for the heart because it is thought to increase amount of HDL, or “good” cholesterol. 

But researchers still don’t know exactly how much benefit the phenolics in wine or chocolate provide, so for now, limiting your chocolate intake is still a good idea.

Source: The Lancet, 348, 834 (1996).

Counseling for Weight Loss
If you know you have risk factors for heart disease, but you’ve had trouble losing weight, you may want to consider getting some help from your doctor. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently presented findings showing that “intensive behavioral dietary counseling” for people with high cholesterol and other known risk factors produced “consistent, sustained and clinically important changes in dietary intake…”

Changing your eating habits can be extremely difficult. Poor eating habits are one of the biggest factors in the development of chronic disease. Getting treatment from a professional is a good way to go if you’re having trouble making the changes on your own. 

Source: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Little People, Little Portions
Parents often fill up their children’s plates with portions that are way too big. Remember, kids don’t need to eat as much as adults.

Take a look at the USDA’s food pyramid for young children.

You’ll see that kids should have

  • 2 servings of dairy products per day (one cup of milk is one serving)
  • 2 meat servings (1 serving could be 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, ½ cup cooked dried beans; one egg is a half serving; 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is a half serving)
  • 3 vegetables
  • 2 fruits (3/4 cup of juice equals one serving)
  • 8 grain servings
  • Limited amounts of fats and sweets

Obesity has become a problem not just for adults but also for kids. Make sure your kids are getting the right amounts and the right types of food.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

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