Parents give children alcohol ‘too young’

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some parents give their children alcohol from an early age

Parents could be storing up problems for their children by introducing them to alcohol too young and ordering takeaways too often, researchers warn.

Two universities found that one in six parents gives their children alcohol by the age of 14, when their body and brain are not yet fully developed.

Many parents may believe they are acting responsibly – but that’s not backed up by research, experts said.

Regular takeaways were a risk to the heart, a separate study said.

A team of researchers from St George’s, University of London, surveyed nearly 2,000 nine and 10-year-olds on their diets and found that one in four ate takeaways at least once a week.

This group had higher body fat composition from consuming too many calories, and lower levels of vitamins and minerals than children who ate food cooked at home.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Eating too many takeaway meals increases children’s calorie intake

Continuing on this kind of diet could increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems later in life, the research team warned, saying takeaways should be “actively discouraged”.

When it comes to giving adolescents a taste of alcohol, well-educated parents of white children are the main culprits, research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health suggests.

But very few ethnic minority parents said they allowed early drinking – only 2%.

Using data on 10,000 children from the Millennium Cohort Study, researchers from from University College London and Pennsylvania State University found that light or moderate-drinking parents were just as likely to let their children drink alcohol as heavy-drinking parents.

Prof Jennifer Maggs, lead study author, said: “Parents of socially advantaged children may believe that allowing children to drink will teach them responsible use or may in fact inoculate them against dangerous drinking.

“However, there is little research to support these ideas.”

Previous research has shown that those who start drinking early are more likely to do badly at school, have behaviour issues, and develop alcohol problems in adulthood.

Official medical advice recommends that children don’t drink alcohol until they are at least 15.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Set clear rules for teenagers and booze, experts say

In the survey, 14-year-olds themselves were asked whether they had ever tried more than a few sips of alcohol, with almost half saying yes.

When they were 11, about 14% had done so.

Katherine Brown, chief executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said an alcohol-free childhood was best and this advice may not be getting to parents.

“We need to see better guidance offered to parents via social marketing campaigns and advice from doctors and schools.

“Parents deserve to know they can have a positive impact, and can reduce health harms associated with young people drinking.”

Dr John Larsen, from the charity Drinkaware, said parents and guardians had an important role to play in helping children learn about alcohol.

“While each parent or carer may choose to approach talking to their teenagers about alcohol in different ways, it is helpful to have clear rules and that the conversations are open and honest.”

How to talk to children about alcohol

  • Get the tone right – make it a conversation, not a lecture
  • Get the timing right – don’t wait until they are going out of the door to meet friends
  • Find a hook – like a recent film or TV storyline to start the conversation
  • Be honest – it’s far better to confess to what you did at their age
  • Set rules – teenagers feel safer if there are guidelines and boundaries

Drinkaware has more tips on strategies to prevent underage drinking.

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5 Years Ago, A Man With A Gun Slaughtered 20 Children. And We Have Done Little About It.

“Now is not the time to talk about gun control.”

It’s an oft-used phrase uttered by gun rights activists nearly every time someone with a gun slaughters a number of innocent people. And when the most lethal modern mass shooting in the U.S. occurred earlier this year in Las Vegas, it was the White House itself that deflected talk about meaningful gun control legislation.

“There will certainly be a time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said following that massacre.

Five years ago on this day, a 20-year-old man with a gun walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and stole the lives of 20 children and six faculty members. The shooting prompted then-President Barack Obama to openly weep as he asked for more sensible gun control laws. Congress blocked his proposals instead. 

Mike Segar / Reuters
Twenty-seven angel figures were placed beside a road near the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 16, 2012. Two days earlier, a gunman who had killed his mother then massacred 26 people — including 20 children — at the school.

The prospect of sensible gun control legislation has only eroded since then.

Early in his term, President Donald Trump, with members of Congress, overturned a background check regulation put in place by Obama that made it harder for individuals with mental illnesses to legally access a gun.

Chris Cox, spokesman for the National Rifle Association, was thrilled.

“Today marks a new era for law-abiding gun owners, as we now have a president who respects and supports our right to keep and bear arms,” Cox said. “We are pleased that this example of government overreach will no longer be pursued.” 

The NRA, for all its chest-pounding about the right to own assault-style rifles, went into hiding following the Las Vegas shooting, where it took just one man with multiple guns to kill 58 people. NRA officials are unable, or unwilling, to see that moderate control of access to guns is what can save future lives. Instead, the powerful organization has shifted its focus to blame Hollywood or the Black Lives Matter movement for many of the problems this nation faces.

The NRA is so embedded in the fabric of Washington politics that some of those who once pushed for national gun control legislation are taking a new tactic by running for local offices. Nine volunteers for the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America ― started as a response to the Sandy Hook killings ― won positions this year in local government, Reuters reports.

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Distraught leave the fire station after hearing news of their loved ones from officials December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. 

“The reality is that the work doesn’t really start in Congress,” founder Shannon Watts told the new outlet. “That’s where it ends.”

In some states, anti-gun measures have been on the rise. Both New York and Connecticut passed legislation after Sandy Hook that toughened background-check requirements for gun purchases and expanded the firearms covered by assault weapon bans.

But other states have gone in a different direction, passing laws that allow people to carry concealed handguns without a permit. These include New Hampshire, Idaho, Mississippi and West Virginia.

And simply researching gun violence has scientists wary of potential pushback. David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, told Mother Jones that such work comes with a cost.

“There are so many big issues in the world, and the question is: Do you want to do gun research? Because you’re going to get attacked,” Hemenway told the publication. “No one is attacking us when we do heart disease.”

Even something so simple as banning bump stocks ― devices that make semi-automatic weapons function like machine guns and were used by the Las Vegas shooter ― has hit a dead end. Some gun manufacturers promised to suspend sale of the devices, which only caused an increase in demand. And a legislative ban proposed in Congress has stalled after (guess who?) the NRA came out against it.

The first action Congress took on firearm legislation under Trump occurred last week, when the House passed a bill that would require every state ― regardless of its laws ― to recognize another state’s concealed-carry gun permit.

“This vote marks a watershed moment for Second Amendment rights,” the NRA’s Cox said.

Despite his celebratory language, the measure is considered unlikely to make it through the Senate.

Still, perhaps the most sobering fact is this: While stock prices for American Airlines fell 39 percent following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, stock prices for guns skyrocket nearly every time a mass shooting happens.

Five years ago today, 20 children were slaughtered. We keep being told not to talk about gun control, but here’s the truth: We talk about gun control now, or more children die later. 

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4 Things You Learn Moving From A Small Town To A Big City

So after a life spent in a small town, you think you’re ready to move to the big city. If multiple talking animal movie protagonists can do it, why can’t you? Besides, you know what to expect: glitzy nightlife, exotic dining options, everyone spends all day, every day honking their horns in traffic. Well, I’ve made this journey myself, and trust me, you’re in for some surprises …


The City Is Actually Safer

Small towns are where you can leave the windows open at night, knowing that in the very worst case, you’ll be visited by a talking owl with handy life lessons. Ask anyone who’s never left their tiny hometown what life in a big city is like, and they’ll provide you with the IMDb synopsis for The Departed. Sure, the city has its benefits … if you survive.

And in fact, within a couple months of my move, there was a brutal murder just two blocks away from my new place. Shot right in the goddamned head! Everyone had been right all along! And I was probably next! I had re-habitated to Murder Town, and it was only a matter of time before the police found my body in a river or a dumpster behind a Dunkin’ Donuts, or scattered in between.

The truth of the matter is that in general, you’re far more likely to die purely by accident, and that happens way more in smaller towns. There, you’re 20 percent more likely to die from unintentional injuries, your screams echoing across the tranquil countryside. That rural illusion of safety is based on pop culture, which tends to favor stories about shootouts in city streets over tragic tales of middle-aged men tumbling off their roofs while trying to adjust their satellite dishes.

Plus, for people like me, who don’t necessarily feel safer with a shitload of armed citizens around, I was relieved to learn that guns aren’t nearly as popular in cities as they are in rural areas. And to verify both of these studies, I just went and looked out my window, and didn’t see a single person open-carrying or trying to shoot a lawnmower full of Tannerite and getting their leg blown off. (Warning: That link is to a video of that exact thing happening, though now that I think about it, it mainly proves that the real killer is boredom.)


People Will Totally Refuse Cash As Payment

If somebody standing behind a counter tells you that the cash in your hand is no good, it’s a safe bet that the things you’re trying to buy are canned goods and bullets and that a riot raging behind you, because clearly the system has collapsed. Once, I went to nearby town and they asked me for a check instead of cash, and had no idea what to do. Don’t they have to take it, by law? Isn’t this the fabric that holds all of society together?

I worked at the same place for 15 years in my small town, and they still don’t have a credit card machine, because that shit will eat into three percent of their profits (that’s right, whenever you use a card, the bank takes a little sliver of that money from the merchant). We took cash, because we were in America.

When you move to a city, you may quickly find that physical currency is no longer accepted, depending on where you’re shopping. Suddenly my cold, hard cash was deemed as worthless as a slip of paper with “I PROMISE TO PAY U BACK” written in crayon. This is partly done for theft prevention (so easy for a cashier to just pocket the money and insist the missing carton of Marlboros must have been shoplifted), but abandoning the 10,000-year-old concept of physical currency entirely seems a bit extreme.


Nobody Smokes

Where I’m from, every fourth pedestrian seemed to be a glorious human chimney, and the designated smoking areas outside of bars were like their own private social events. You could hang out at the kids’ table inside the brewery, or you could play cancer roulette with the hip people outside. After moving, though, I’ve noticed that I’m often the lone smoker outside of a bar, and walking down the sidewalk while puffing away feels like I’m bothering literally every person I pass.

As it turns out, the difference in the number of smokers between urban and rural areas is fairly dramatic. In the span between 2001 and 2007, adult smoking in New York City had dropped 20 percent, and smoking among teenagers had dropped 52 percent. This was attributed to things like higher costs due to state and city tobacco taxes, anti-smoking ads, and there being fewer places to buy cigarettes. If you’re the type of person who likes avoiding annoyances like debilitating lung issues and heart disease, this is fantastic news. But if you’re a smoker (like me), you just feel like the fuckface who’s poisoning everyone in your general vicinity. Nice job, jerk. You just got all of Brooklyn sick. It’s like how common courtesy says you step outside of a crowded party to go smoke, only the city is one big crowded party, so there’s no place to go.


Driving Sucks In Exciting New Ways That You Don’t Expect

The traffic is the one part of city life everybody already knows about. It’s one of the first things you learn as a child — colors, shapes, and not going over the Brooklyn Bridge at 5:30. But it’s not just bumper-to-bumper traffic and gridlock that suck years off your life; it’s completely foreign concepts, like weird-ass parking rules you had no idea existed.

Where I live, there are certain streets that have what’s called an “odd-even” parking ordinance, which basically means that if the day of the month is even, you have to park on the side of the street with the even-numbered addresses, and the reverse on odd-numbered days. With a lot of streets in big cities, you’re forced to move your car at one specific time of the week to make room for street cleaning. Then you either try to cram your car into one of the four open spaces left in the whole city, or just drive around until the army of street sweepers has retreated. The policies are likely a large-scale Milgram experiment intended to see just what city-dwellers will tolerate before finally rising up to overthrow the system.

Back where I’m from, distance is actually a meaningful concept. The grocery store I would frequent was an inconvenient 12 miles away, and it took me about 15 minutes to drive there, which is easily calculated based on how fast the car is being driven. Now I live in a city bustling with commerce, so that store chain is now just a few miles away. Which is a totally meaningless figure, because what matters is how many minutes that is, and oh by the way, it’s at least the same 15-minute trek as in the small town (only it’s a much more stressful 15 minutes that feel much longer).

It’s particularly harrowing because when pedestrians have the right of way, they just fucking go. Considering how cold and cynical city-dwellers are supposed to be, these people seem to have supreme confidence in the goodwill and braking reflexes of their fellow urbanites. Some of us are from out of town, dammit! We’re not expecting strangers to just shuffle right in front of us while we’re trying to make a right turn! Plus, this is the ninth day of the 12th month, which I believe means I can legally park on your face.

Dwayne is on Facebook and Twitter … sometimes.

Man, what a Tale of Two Cities. No matter where you live, it might not be a bad idea to carry some mace with you.

If you loved this article and want more content like this, support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.

For more, check out 7 Things No One Tells You About Moving to a New Country and The 5 Worst Things About Getting a Job in a Small Town.

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Baby girl survives with heart outside her body at birth, in UK first

Vanellope Hope Wilkins, who had her first surgery within an hour of delivery, is believed to be first baby in UK to survive with the extremely rare condition

A baby girl born with her heart outside her body is believed to be the first in the UK to survive with the extremely rare condition after undergoing three operations, the first within an hour of her birth.

At a nine-week scan, Vanellope Hope Wilkins was discovered to have the condition ectopia cordis, with her heart and part of her stomach growing externally.

Her parents, Naomi Findlay, 31, and Dean Wilkins, 43, of Bulwell, Nottinghamshire, were advised termination was the only option, they said.

But three weeks after her premature birth, by caesarean section on 22 November, Vanellope, who is named after a Disney princess, has survived three operations at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, to move her heart back inside her chest.

Experts, including the consultant cardiologist, have said they do not know of another case in the UK where a baby has survived such a condition.

Describing their emotions on first being told of her chances, Findlay said: I burst into tears. When we did the research, we just couldnt physically look because the condition came with so many problems.

Wilkins said: We still didnt know what we were looking at when we saw the scan, it looked like a little hamster with a hat on.

They decided against termination, preferring to leave it to nature, and worried throughout the whole pregnancy.

Vanellope Wilkins undergoes corrective surgery, in what is believed to be a UK first, at Glenfield Hospital. Photograph: University Hospitals of Leiceste/PA

The couple said they were told the first 10 minutes after birth were crucial as her ability to breathe would be essential. But when she came out and she came out crying, that was it. The relief fell out of me, said her mother. Her father said: Twenty minutes went by and she was still shouting her head off it made us so joyful and teary.

Vanellope has undergone three operations carried out by a team of 50 staff at Glenfield Hospital. Immediately after her birth, she was wrapped in a sterile plastic bag. Consultant neonatologist Jonathan Cusack said: At around 50 minutes of age, it was felt that Vanellope was stable enough to be transferred back to the main theatre, where she had been born, to the waiting anaesthetists, congenital heart disease and paediatric surgical teams who began the task of putting her entire heart back inside her chest.

She was transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit where she was due to stay for at least several weeks while she got strong enough and big enough for her heart to be placed fully within her chest and covered with her skin.

After seven days, her chest was opened a bit more to create space to allow her heart to fit back in. In the average baby, there is an indent on the left lung which leaves space for the heart, but she did not have this. Over two weeks, her heart naturally made its way back into her chest as a result of gravity.

The latest operation involved taking skin from under her arms and moving it to join in the middle of her body. Surgeons had created a mesh that protected her heart as she did not have ribs or a sternum. As her organs fight for space inside her chest, she is still attached to a ventilation machine.

Babies born with the condition one estimate is five to eight per million have less than a 10% chance of survival.

Branko Mimic, the lead surgeon at the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre, said: Cases such as Vanellopes, where everything else appears essentially normal, are even rarer, and whilst it would seem more hopeful she will do well, it is therefore almost impossible to be confident of this.

Frances BuLock, a consultant paediatric cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital, said she had described the chances of the baby surviving as remote. I had seen one in foetal life around 20 years ago but that pregnancy was ended.

Findlay said all the way through her pregnancy that she was warned the chances of survival are next to nothing. After the birth, she said, I felt guilty for thinking negative thoughts because here she is fighting, and there was I, about to give up. Im glad I stuck to my guns not to terminate though, Im so glad.

Wilkins said: I lost hope a few times, if she didnt move Id say: Has she moved today? and then, the next thing, shed suddenly move and youd go: Oh shes heard me.

They named their daughter after a character in the film Wreck-it Ralph. Vanellope in the film is so stubborn and she turns into a princess at the end, so it was so fitting. The Hope part of her name is the fact that she has brought us hope, and my mum and dad, because even they, as grandparents, thought they would never get to see their granddaughter, said Findlay.

Wilkins said: Some mums still terminate and if we can get out there that there is a hope, and that it can be done, then its giving all those mums out there a chance. His daughters name was a reminder, he said, that there is that hope.

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A 12 Diet Cokes-a-day habit like Trump’s is worth changing

(CNN)President Donald Trump downs a dozen Diet Cokes each day, The New York Times reported this weekend. His love of the bubbly beverage is shared by many Americans and at least one of his predecessors. President Bill Clinton was frequently photographed with a can in his hand and reportedly placed a Diet Coke — along with a now-outdated cell phone and other items — in a time capsule at his official presidential library.

So, what happens to those who drink a dozen cans daily of the caramel-colored elixir, which contains a blend of the sweetener aspartame and artificial and natural flavors, among other ingredients?
Some research suggests that artificially sweetened drinks can increase one’s appetite and the desire for sweets. This effect was linked to aspartame, the most frequently used sweetener in diet beverages, which generates a similar response in the body as sugar. Just 30 minutes after drinking either a diet soda containing aspartame or the same amount of regular soda (with sucrose), the body reacts with similar concentrations of glucose and insulin.
    Susan Swithers, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences, refers to aspartame’s effects as “teasing” the body.
    “You get this very sweet taste; your body says ‘I’m about to get sugar; I’m about to get energy,’ but those never arrive,” Swithers said, based on her research of diet soda consumption in animals. The result is, your body learns sweet taste is no longer a good signal, so instead of producing normal responses immediately, it delays. This becomes problematic when you eat actual sugar, because your blood sugar rises a little higher than it normally would, and as a result, you may eat more than usual, she explained.
    “It’s kind of a small thing that happens,” she said, but over time, the cumulative effects might be strong, particularly in humans.
    Looking at long-term studies in humans, Swithers noted, the results indicate that people who report drinking artificially sweetened beverages end up at higher risk than non-diet soda drinkers for lots of negative outcomes, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and stroke, as well as dementia.
    A Boston University School of Medicine study from this year found that people who reported drinking at least one can of an artificially sweetened soft drink each day were almost three times as likely to have a stroke caused by a blood clot, compared with those who avoided these diet beverages.
    One-a-day diet soda drinkers were nearly three times as likely as those who never drink diet sodato be diagnosed with dementia, as well, the researchers found.
    Another recent study looked at the relationship between drinking diet soda and long-term waist circumference change among people 65 and older. The University of Texas Health Science Center researchers found that drinking diet soda was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, which in turn leads to an increased risk of heart disease.
    Smiles may also become less attractive for those who drink too much diet soda. One study found that both the regular and diet versions of cola beverages caused the same amount of tooth enamel dissolution, which leads to enamel erosion. “Diet sodas contain acids, which could contribute to tooth erosion,” said Lisa Drayer, a nutritionist and contributor to CNN.
    Additionally, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found an increased risk of type 2 diabetes among women who drank more than 20 ounces — less than two cans — of artificially sweetened beverages each week.
    Meanwhile, 12 cans of Diet Cola a day is two cans above what the Mayo Clinic describes as a “safe amount” of daily caffeine for adults. Too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, nervousness, irritability and even an abnormal heart rhythm.
    “I still think it’s a better choice than sugary sodas,” Drayer said. “If he drank regular soda, he would be adding an additional 1,680 calories and a whopping 468 grams of sugar just from this beverage alone!”

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    One 12-ounce can of regular Coke has 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar. In comparison, Diet Coke, which was unveiled by the Coca-Cola Company in 1982, has zero calories and zero grams of sugar.
    “If he can’t cut out his soft drinks entirely, I would recommend that he replace at least half of his diet sodas with water,” Drayer suggested. “And if plain water seems boring, he can always add fruit slices to water or opt for seltzer.”

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    Jimmy Kimmel Makes Another Emotional Plea For Children’s Health Care

    Jimmy Kimmel has issued another emotional plea for viewers to get involved in protecting affordable access to health care. 

    While holding his 7-month-old son Billy, who underwent a second heart surgery last week after being born with congenital heart disease, the late-night host discussed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Monday night. The program is in jeopardy because Congress failed to secure funding in October. According to the Washington Post, CHIP provides low-cost health care to 9 million children across the country.

    “Overwhelmingly, Democrats and Republicans supported it until now. Now CHIP has become a bargaining chip. It’s on the back-burner while [Congress] works out their new tax plans. So that means parents of children with cancer and diabetes and heart problems are about to get letters saying their coverage could be cut off next month,” Kimmel said. 

    He then slammed representatives in Washington D.C. for failing to secure funding for such a crucial program and encouraged viewers to get involved. 

    “I don’t know what could be more disgusting than putting a tax cut that goes to rich people ahead of the lives of children,” Kimmel said.

    Check out the full segment in the video above.

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    Why your diet should include more fat

    Think back to the ’80s and ’90s when buying anything that didn’t don a low-fat label was simply taboo. Back then, butter and egg yolks topped the “do not eat” list, while refined carbs and packaged foods weren’t given a second thought. But times have definitely changed.

    These days, experts tout fat as a must-have macro and full-fat products, like whole milk, avocado, ghee and coconut oil, join the ranks of superfoods.
    Yet, some people still question what kinds of fat they should eat and exactly how it affects the body. That’s why we called on Mark Hyman, MD, author of the “Eat Fat, Get Thin Cookbook,” to help us wipe clean the greasy mess of info and lay down the facts on fat.

      5 Myths About Fat — Debunked

      1. Myth: Fat on my plate equals fat on my body.
      Reality: Even though this myth is the basis for low-fat diets and food products, it’s far from the truth. Eating fat won’t make you fat. Completely eliminating or limiting fat from your diet can actually make you gain weight, often because it leaves you feeling so deprived. Conversely, some studies have found that fatty foods can aid in weight loss.
      “The problem with most diets is that they lack the key ingredient that makes food taste good and cuts your hunger,” says Dr. Hyman. And you guessed it, that’s fat. “Healthy fats are the best source of energy for your body, and they keep your metabolism and fat-burning mechanisms running as they’re meant to,” Dr. Hyman explains.
      Research supports this, showing that a low-fat diet could slow down metabolism. So now you have permission to enjoy a spoonful of nut butter with an apple before your next workout or a satiating piece of steak for dinner every once in a while.
      2. Myth: Saturated fat should get a big fat “I’ll pass.”
      Reality: Not so fast. While saturated fat has long been known as public health enemy number one, recent research proves it’s not so scary. Of course, you shouldn’t always opt for a meal full of red meat and butter, but having them occasionally won’t wreck your health (or your waistline).
      In fact, Dr. Hyman whips some butter into his coffee in the morning. Although it’s higher in saturated fat, he says butter is a more wholesome ingredient, particularly the grass-fed variety.
      What’s worse than eating high-fat foods: replacing them with loads of sugar. Refined carbs can increase your chances of developing coronary heart disease and diabetes.
      3. Myth: All fat causes health problems.
      Reality: Eating different sources of fat can actually boost your health. Omega-3 fatty acids (those found in fish and some nuts and seeds) can help strengthen your heart and possibly your mental well-being, too. And the monounsaturated fats in olive oil (as well as nuts and avocados) can also cut your risk of heart disease.
      Dr. Hyman has even seen some of his patients reverse type 2 diabetes by eating a high-fat diet.
      4. Myth: High-cholesterol foods raise your LDL cholesterol levels.
      Reality: Previous thinking also cautioned against foods high in cholesterol (a type of fat), but that’s no longer the case. Dietary cholesterol doesn’t necessarily raise the “bad” cholesterol levels in your body, Dr. Hyman explains. Instead, it can elevate HDL or the “good” kind.
      One caveat: Trans fats and linoleic acid (found in vegetable oils) can harm your health. So steer clear of partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated oils, like canola, as well as packaged foods like cream-filled candies, frozen pizza and margarine. Sometimes, the nutrition label doesn’t show trans fat, so look for hydrogenated oils on the ingredients list.
      5. Myth: Fat will keep me from my fitness goals.

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      Reality: Some endurance athletes actually embrace what’s known as the ketogenic diet. This plan involves getting about 70 to 75 percent of your daily calories from fat and just five to 10 percent from carbs. Though researchers are still looking into the proven (dis)advantages of the diet, it can help your body adjust to running off fat stores, rather than carbs, explains Pam Nisevich Bede, RD, dietitian with Abbott’s EAS Sports Nutrition.
      (The mechanisms for this work similarly to intermittent fasting: When you run out of glycogen for energy, your body turns to other sources, like fat.) “Since most of us exercise to burn off that internal fat storage, it can be a win-win,” Bede says.
      The typical high-fat foods in a ketogenic diet aren’t cheeseburgers and fries, though. It’s more like avocados, fish, peanut butter, meat and eggs. Note that it also takes the body about three to five weeks to adapt to a low-carb, high-fat diet, especially if you regularly chow down on foods like pizza and pasta. And because your body digests fat more slowly than carbs (like bagels), it keeps you fuller for longer and provides a steadier source of energy levels to help you power through a long run or fitness class. If you do have a high-fat meal, wait about two hours before working out, Bede says.

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      Even without the buns, Trump’s favorite fast-food meal is a diet-buster

      (CNN)On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump’s typical McDonald’s meal contained nearly a day’s worth of calories and sodium, almost double the recommended daily dose of saturated fat and 2 times the sugar he should eat in a day, according to US Dietary Guidelines.

      Trump became well-known for his love of fast food during the 2016 election. He even tweeted a photo from his plane, ready to diveinto a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but there are new details about his go-to meal at his other fast food favorite, McDonald’s.
      Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski wrote about it in his book about the campaign, saying Trump would order two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches and a chocolate milkshake.
        “Well, he never ate the bread, which is the important part,” Lewandowski told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “He was busy campaigning. We didn’t have time to sit down for a meal.”
        But even without the bread — or the fries one would typically get with McDonald’s meals — nutritionists say he should rethink his diet.
        “This is not a healthy way of eating, even if it is without the carbs of the bun,” said Lisa Drayer, a nutritionist who frequently writes for CNN. “I’d prefer he’d eat half the protein and much less saturated fat.”
        Without the bun, this meal still contains at least 1,880 calories based on nutrition information available on the McDonald’s website. Although your daily calorie count can vary, based on the typical 2,000-calorie count diet used by the US Dietary Guideline, that doesn’t leave a lot of room to eat anything else during the day — bun or no bun.
        Drayer said that based on the protein and saturated fat in all those sandwiches, Trump would be better off eating one of the Big Macs or one of the Filet-o-Fishes rather than two of either, even without the bun. And if he had a medium chocolate shake, that alone is 2½ times the recommended daily amount of sugar.

        Celebrating 1237! #Trump2016

        A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

        Trump measures in at 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, according to his last available medical records, resulting in a body mass index of 29.5. That makes him overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health’s online BMI calculator, though his doctor said his “test results were within normal range,” with a cholesterol level of 169 and blood pressure of 116/70. However, he takes a cholesterol-lowering statin, which is prescribed to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke and low-dose aspirin, which also can benefit the heart.But at 71 years of age, a steady fast-food diet could compromise his health.
        “As you get older, your metabolism slows down, your blood pressure increases with age just naturally, and if you are doing this every day, then you are increasing your risk for heart disease in addition to upping your risk for cancer,” Drayer said.
        Eating red meat regularly has been linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. A 2009 study showed that people who regularly ate red meat were more likely to die sooner than those who ate it in smaller amounts.
        “A hamburger every once in a while is fine, but eating this on a regular basis is not healthy,” Drayer said. “Red meat does offer iron and protein, but at the amount he is consuming, it is putting his health at risk.”
        It is unclear how often the President would eat such a meal.
        If he continues to make McDonald’s a go-to, she suggests some menu alternatives: Apple slices and mandarin oranges are good. Some of the salads are better choices. But if he insists on a sandwich, she recommends skipping the Big Macs and instead having the fish without tartar sauce and cheese.

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        Swap the chocolate shake for a low-fat yogurt parfait she suggests, which has healthy fruit and fiber. The blueberries and strawberries at least offer antioxidants. If Trump is not a yogurt man, even a vanilla cone would be healthier, at less than half the calories and less than a third the sugar than a small shake.
        “At least,” she said, “he is not eating the McFlurry with M&M’s. He didn’t pick the (least-healthy) dessert choice on the menu.”

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        Balding, premature graying tied to higher heart disease risk

        Male-pattern baldness and premature greying are associated with a greater risk of heart disease before the age of 40 than obesity, according to a new study from India. Does this mean that doctors should be screening our hairline alongside traditional risk factors such as our weight and blood pressure?

        Over the years, scientists have developed many cardiovascular disease “risk tools”, with varying levels of usefulness. The tools normally involve measuring “classical” risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol levels, obesity and diabetes. Included in most of these risk tools is age, because risk of cardiovascular disease in later life is higher if you have risk factors in your forties.
        Beyond these classical risk factors, several slightly odd risk factors have been identified. These include weak grip strength, skipping breakfast and being divorced. Previous research has also suggested that premature hair greying is linked to vascular (blood vessel) disease. Male-pattern baldness may also be an early sign of cardiovascular risk.

          Fivefold greater risk

          The new study, presented at the 69th Annual Conference of the Cardiological Society of India, looked at coronary artery disease, a major form of cardiovascular disease. They specifically studied men under the age of 40. This is important as the classical risk factors are not as good at predicting cardiovascular disease in younger people. This study investigated the links between premature hair greying, hair loss and coronary artery disease in young Indian men.
          The researchers, from the UN Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre in Ahmedabad, compared men under 40 with coronary artery disease with age-matched healthy men. All participants had their degree of coronary artery disease measured using a variety of clinical tests. Participants also had their baldness and hair whiteness rated.
          When the researchers compared results between the two groups, they found that men with coronary artery disease had significantly higher rates of premature greying (50% versus 30%) and male-pattern baldness (49% versus 27%). After adjusting for other factors, they found that male-pattern baldness carried a 5.6 times greater risk of coronary artery disease. Premature greying was associated with a 5.3 times greater risk.
          These hair-related factors were apparently better predictors of coronary artery disease risk than obesity, which was only associated with a 4.1 times greater risk. All of the classical risk factors were worse at predicting coronary artery disease than male-pattern baldness and premature greying.

          Focus on what you can change

          While the study is very interesting, it must be noted that the numbers recruited were relatively small (780 men with coronary artery disease and 1,270 healthy males). Also, the study only recruited Indian men. Before we reconsider how we screen for cardiovascular disease in people under 40, this type of study needs to be repeated in a larger, more diverse group of people.
          If these findings are true, the next step is to understand why it is so. Obesity is a modifiable risk factor, so weight loss can be an important tool in reducing the risk of future cardiovascular disease. As of yet there is little we can do to reverse or prevent male-pattern baldness or premature greying, beyond cosmetic changes.

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          It is possible that these factors may be markers of biological age, which may influence cardiovascular risk. This might mean that there is little we can currently do to reduce this risk. There may also be genetic factors that link premature baldness or greyness with cardiovascular disease risk, but these have yet to be discovered.
          It remains to be seen if male-pattern baldness or premature greying really are risk factors for cardiovascular disease across the general population. Until there is more evidence, it is best to be reminded that eating a healthy diet rich in fibre and getting regular exercise are excellent ways to reduce the risk of having heart problems in the future.

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          Working out on polluted streets bears minimal benefit for older people

          (CNN)Going for a long walk on polluted, traffic-laden streets in an attempt to get fit has negligible benefits on your health, a new study has found.

          UK researchers explored the benefits of walking in people over the age of 60 and compared the impact on their health when they walked along polluted urban streets versus in the open spaces of a park.
          It perhaps comes as no surprise that people walking in the park fared better. The surprise was that benefits of walking were negligible, in terms of boosting heart and respiratory health, when walking along polluted streets.
            The findings, published Tuesday in the journal The Lancet, suggest that short-term exposure to traffic pollution prevents the cardiorespiratory — heart and lung — benefits of physical activity during that time.
            “When you walk, your airways open up … and your blood vessels dilate, or open up… and these effects can last for a few days. When you do this in a polluted place, these effects are much smaller, so you’ve lost the benefits of exercise,” said Dr. Fan Chung, professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London, who led the study.
            “When you exercise in polluted areas, you breathe in more, and you get more of the particles and gases getting to your lungs,” he said.

            Pollution versus park

            Chung’s team set out find out the effects of pollution on people with heart and lung disease, most of whom are over the age of 60, he said.
            For a fair comparison, a healthy control group was included, but to the researchers’ surprise, they saw a significant impact from pollution on everyone.
            The team recruited 119 adults over the age of 60 and divided them into three groups, based on whether they were healthy or had heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD.
            Participants were randomly assigned to walk for two hours on London’s Oxford Street, a major road and shopping district in the city, or in the open spaces of the 350-acre Hyde Park, just a mile away.A few weeks later, they walked in the other location.
            Traffic along Oxford Street is restricted to allow mainly buses and taxis, which typically run on diesel fuel. Overall, London breached air pollution limits for 2017 just five days into the new year.
            For all the participants, walking in Hyde Park led to improvements in lung capacityand function as well as reduced stiffness of the arteries, which is otherwise a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, for up to 26 hours afterward.
            However, when people walked along Oxford Street, the researchers found a minor increase in lung capacity and a rise in arterial stiffness, which could be attributed to exposure to black carbon soot and ultrafine particles from diesel exhaust, they said.
            “In a polluted place, the (positive) effects are much smaller,” Chung said.
            People with COPD fared the worst along Oxford Street, with both their airways narrowing and their arteries stiffening. They also reported more coughing, shortness of breath, sputum and wheezing.
            The team highlighted that some of the benefits from walking in the park could be impacted by more pleasant surroundings and reduced stress, but they believe this does not account for the significant difference they saw.
            “If people cannot find a green place or a park to exercise, I think they probably should exercise indoors,” Chung said.

            To walk or not to walk

            “We’re not talking about very high levels of pollution that you see in India or China. We’re talking about pollution you get on an ordinary day walking up and down the high street,” Chung said. “At that level, we are seeing effects that are negating the benefits of walking.”
            He believes it’s most important for people with heart and lung disease avoid these areas and adds that despite being conducted in London, the study has global relevance.
            “These would apply to European cities and North American cities where the pollution levels are more similar,” Chung said.
            Asian pollution is one or two orders of magnitude greater, and similar studies should be done at that level of pollution, he said.
            However, recent studies across a range of age groups have found physical activity to be beneficial, even in the face of high pollution levels.
            One piece of research, by teams at the Centre for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge, found that the benefits of walking and cycling outweigh the negative effects of air pollution — the converse of this new study.
            “Our model indicates that in London, health benefits of active travel always outweigh the risk from pollution,” lead author of the research Marko Tainio said when it was published in 2016. “Even in Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world — with pollution levels 10 times those in London — people would need to cycle over five hours per week before the pollution risks outweigh the health benefits.”
            In response to the new findings, Tainio said, “it is also important to notice that this study looked at the short-term impacts. … These findings need to be confirmed with empirical long-term studies examining tradeoffs over months and years. Also, Professor Chung and colleagues noticed that health benefits of walking were attenuated, not completely negated, among the healthy participants.
            “The authors suggest that people should avoid walking in busy streets and should instead walk in parks or in green space. We agree that this is good advice for recreational walking for people who can make that choice,” he added. “But for people commuting or shopping, even in a city as polluted as London, we would still encourage walking and cycling.”
            “This paper highlights the risks to health by walking along polluted roads for the over-60s with specific pre-existing medical conditions,” added Ian Colbeck, professor of environmental science at the University of Essex. “However, we know from other research that for the vast majority of the population, the benefits of any physical activity far outweigh any harm caused by air pollution, except for the most extreme air pollution concentrations. It’s important to that people continue to exercise.”
            Professor Stephen Holgate, special adviser on air quality to the Royal College of Physicians in the UK, believes that “we can be quite confident from this (new) study that it is the pollution that is the factor responsible for changes in lung function.”

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            Holgate, who was not involved in the new research, added that the sample sizes were small but that “the study deliberately selected COPD and ischemic heart disease at-risk patients, and … overall, the findings add to evidence of the importance of pollutant effects in vulnerable groups and have implications for pollution in general from vehicles (diesel, petrol, brakes and tires) as sources of pollutants.”
            Tainio highlighted that encouraging people to exercise could in turn reduce pollution levels.
            “The authors are right to highlight that policies should aim to reduce air pollution and noise levels in streets to protect vulnerable population from potential harm. For example, the planned removal of buses and taxis from Oxford Street should help to achieve this,” he said.
            “However, it is important to remember the role that walking and cycling can play in helping to reduce air pollution and noise by removing motorized transport from the streets.”

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