Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Substitute Yogurt in Your Recipes for Healthier Meals

Yogurt can improve baked goods' texture, not to mention make them lower in fat and calories.

(NewsUSA) - Eating healthier isn't about deprivation, but replacing low-nutrient foods with healthy substitutes. Incorporating yogurt into basic recipes is the pefect way to start.

By using yogurt instead of sour cream, cream cheese, whipped cream or mayonnaise, meals become not only lower in calories and fat, but also higher in calcium and protein. In baked goods, yogurt can improve texture and keep foods moist. When it's not heated, yogurt provides live active cultures, which can aid digestion and provide immune system support.

Greek yogurt -- a thick strained yogurt -- is especially versatile in cooking. It can be used in dips, spreads and low-fat desserts, or in any recipe that calls for cream, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, sour cream or other fats. You can even use Greek yogurt as an egg extender by replacing one egg with one-fourth cup yogurt.

For a decadent, reduced-fat dessert, try this recipe for Vanilla Cheesecake Made with Vanilla Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt:

Vanilla Cheesecake

Made with Vanilla Oikos

Organic Greek Yogurt

Makes 10 Servings


2 1/2 cups shortbread cookies, finely ground

1/2 stick unsalted butter melted

1 1/2 cups vanilla Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt

4 large eggs

2 8-ounce packages low-fat cream cheese

1 cup super-fine sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Juice and zest of 1 lemon


In a medium-sized bowl, mix cookie crumbs and butter. Press into a 9-inch spring form pan and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Add all ingredients for filling in bowl, and combine using food processor or hand mixer. Pour into cooled crust. Bake for 2 hours. Let cool overnight in refrigerator.

To find other recipes, or to use an online ingredient-substitution calculator that will compute how much yogurt to use in place of your original ingredients, visitwww.stonyfield.com/recipes/substitutioncalc.cfm.

Raising Awareness About Blood Disorders in Women

Women are at a higher risk for certain blood disorders, including anemia and blood clots.

(NewsUSA) - Blood disorders can be dangerous and are of special concern to women because of the unique risks posed by pregnancy, oral contraceptives, menstrual bleeding and hormone-replacement therapy for menopause.

"The hormones estrogen and progesterone can put women at greater risk for blood clots," says Dr. Nancy Berliner, president of the American Society of Hematology (ASH). "These hormones are used in birth control formulations and menopause therapies and are also at higher levels during pregnancy. Women are also at higher risk for anemia than men because of blood loss due to menstrual periods and pregnancy."

ASH therefore urges women to be aware of the following blood disorders, in particular:

- Anemia occurs when the body does not have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to organs and tissue. Pregnant women are especially at risk as they need more red blood cells to support their own bodies and their babies. Red blood cell production requires iron, and pregnant women often don't have enough iron to be able to make the required increased numbers of red blood cells. Heavy menstruation can also result in iron-deficiency anemia. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath.

- Thrombophilia is a dangerous condition in which blood clots form in veins and arteries, blocking the flow of blood. This may cause swelling, pain or redness. Since pregnancy and hormonal medications increase the chance of clotting, women are especially at risk for the disorder.

- Von Willebrand disease is the most common bleeding disorder in women. It is an inherited condition in which blood cannot clot properly. Symptoms include bleeding gums, bruising easily or heavy and long menstrual periods (the most common symptom).

An awareness of the risk factors and symptoms of these disorders is critical, so treatment can be sought before any problems worsen. If you suspect that you have a blood condition, talk to your doctor immediately.

It is especially important for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to talk with their obstetricians about these conditions. "Two of the most common blood disorders during pregnancy are blood clots and anemia," said Berliner. "Both blood conditions are treatable, and there are easy ways to help prevent them."

For more information, visit www.bloodthevitalconnection.org.

Restaurant Chains Responding to Healthier Lifestyles

Restaurant chains are catering to public demand by creating delicious, healthy meals, like the roasted eggplant, spinach & flatbread pizza.

(NewsUSA) - Recent studies indicate that as many as one-third of all American adults are obese. And while healthier diets provide an obvious antidote to their fattier counterparts, there is an obvious reason Americans tend to choose foods in the latter category -- they taste awesome.

So, if the challenge is to marry great taste with healthier intake, and the nation's well-being hinges on the result, health mavens couldn't do much better than to look toward today's more innovative restaurant chains.

For example, recently chosen for the top spot on "Health" magazine's America's Healthiest Chain Restaurants list, UNO has found a way to offer a menu filled with healthy choices, and to have its customers embrace these choices enthusiastically.

"We start by rejecting the notion that healthy food must sacrifice taste," said Frank Guidara, CEO of UNO Chicago Grill. "That simply isn't true. Granted, to achieve both, you will require the highest level of culinary talent. But we have plenty of that at UNO, and that's why we knew we could create menu offerings that would be both healthy and delicious."

A chef of great talent knows that for every unhealthy item added to enhance taste, a healthy alternative can be found or concocted. At UNO, that means diners can enjoy a roasted eggplant, spinach & feta flatbread pizza on multigrain crust without guilt or worry, since it has only 280 calories and six grams of fiber per serving. Diners can choose the multigrain crust option for any flatbread pizza. Another great option for a delicious entree is the lemon basil salmon, which has just 240 calories per serving.

And when it comes to carbohydrates, UNO teamed with Barilla to offer whole grain penne as an option to any pasta -- helping to add more fiber and whole grains to your diet without sacrificing taste.

Just as important as healthy choices is good, easy-to-access information. That's why UNO offers nutrition information through its Web site and on display in restaurant lobby kiosks, with categories that show diners which items are under 500 calories, which are vegetarian and which are created to serve those with food allergies. What's more, UNO's site offers tips for eating healthy in restaurants, including ways to lessen fat content and caloric intake without sacrificing flavor.

Healthy eating will become mainstream when everyone figures out how to combine good health with great taste, and in that pursuit, UNO is leading the way.

U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish Cooks up Healthy Weeknights

For a quick weeknight meal that is nutritious, try Catfish Almondine.

(NewsUSA) - Chances are, you've heard words and phrases like "omega-3s," "lean protein" and "heart health" associated with fish. And yet, when you come home from work, cooking fish just sounds like too much effort. But U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish can change that thought.

Catfish is actually one of the quickest meals you can prepare. The following recipe, for example, only involves nine minutes of active cooking time. For the same amount of time it takes to mix up a box of mac 'n'cheese, you can eat a nutritious dinner that looks and tastes like it took great skill to prepare.

U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish, which are sustainably raised, are low in saturated fat, high in protein and a moderate source of omega-3 fatty acids. Combining the fish with almonds makes for an especially beneficial meal, as almonds contain healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium and potassium. And the almonds in Catfish Almondine offer loads of additional protein.

Catfish Almondine

Serves 2


2 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish Fillets

2 tablespoons butter, divided

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 lemon, zested and juiced


1) Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, place the catfish fillets serving side down, and cook them for four minutes, or until they appear nicely browned.

2) Flip the fillets. Cook them for an additional four minutes or until they're browned and flaky. Remove the fillets from the skillet and set them aside.

3) Add the remaining butter to the skillet. Add the almonds, zest and lemon juice. Cook the almonds for one minute or until they begin to brown.

4) Place the catfish on a plate and serve them with the almondine sauce.

For more recipes, visit www.UScatfish.com.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Stay in Step with your Diabetes

More than 60 percent of non-traumatic, lower-limb amputations occur among people with diabetes. Don't become one of them.
(NewsUSA) - Nearly 21 million people in the United States are afflicted with diabetes, which accounts for 7 percent of the population. The prevalence of the disease is even higher among African Americans. In fact, approximately 13 percent of African Americans aged 20 years or older have the disease. And while diabetes is a chronic disease that can be managed, people need to be more aware of the complications associated with it.

Diabetic complications can cause nerve and vascular damage, which can eventually lead to foot ulcers. If not treated in time, these ulcers can result in amputation. In fact, more than 60 percent of non-traumatic, lower-limb amputations in the United States occur among people with diabetes.

What can you do? The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) recommends regular visits to an APMA podiatric physician as part of a comprehensive foot care plan to help reduce your risk of amputation. Additionally, the APMA suggests following these simple tips at home.

* Check your feet every day

Especially if you have a loss of sensation, visually inspecting your feet daily will help you notice any cuts, sores, blisters or changes in the skin or toenails. You can use a hand mirror to help you check the bottoms of your feet. If you notice a change in your feet, see your podiatrist immediately.

* Clean your feet daily

Washing your feet will help avoid the build-up of bacteria. Be sure to wash in warm water, rather than hot. Completely dry your feet after washing, and pay special attention to drying between the toes.

* Keep skin healthy

By lightly applying lotion or moisturizer to your feet, you can help prevent dry, flaky or cracked skin. Use lotion on the tops and bottoms of your feet but never between the toes because excess moisture between the toes creates conditions favorable to forming an infection.

* Always wear shoes and socks

Soft, lightly padded socks will help you avoid blisters and sores. Socks with no seams are best. Also, examine the insides of your shoes to be sure there is nothing harmful that will injure your feet.

* Choose shoes that fit well and protect your feet

One of the best ways to avoid injuries to your feet is to wear sturdy and supportive shoes at all times.

For more information on diabetes and
your feet or to find an APMA podiatrist in your area, visit www.apma.org.

Survey Shows Unique Needs of HIV-Positive Women Often Not Addressed

Dawn Averitt Bridge, founder and chair of the Board of The Well Project.
(NewsUSA) - There are now an estimated 300,000 women in the United States living with HIV/AIDS. New findings from the "Women Living Positive" survey show that a communication gap exists between women living with HIV and their health care providers when it comes to having important discussions about HIV and its treatment that meet their individual needs.

More than half of women surveyed (55 percent) say they have never discussed with their health care provider how HIV medications might affect women differently than men.

"With the rise of HIV infections in women, it is important that women living with HIV and their health care providers maintain open lines of communication and discuss important topics including their emotional well-being, family planning considerations and care that best meets their health and lifestyle," said Kathleen Squires, M.D., director of Infectious Diseases and Environmental Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College.

In addition, each year more than 6,000 HIV-positive women in the United States give birth. The survey shows that many HIV-positive women and their health care providers aren't discussing how HIV treatment options might affect a pregnancy until after they conceive.

More than half of respondents (52 percent) identify themselves as caregivers. Forty-three percent of women feel that living with HIV has made taking care of their families "much more," or "somewhat more," difficult.

"We hope the "Women Living Positive" survey findings will encourage more discussion between women and their health care providers about HIV medications that best meet their individual needs," said Dawn Averitt Bridge, founder and chair of the Board of The Well Project, a non-profit organization for women affected by HIV, and an HIV-positive mother.

The survey was supported by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in collaboration with The Well Project.

GfK Roper Public Affairs conducted the survey with 700 U.S. women, aged 21 and over, diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and on HIV treatment for three or more years. The women interviewed were part of three different ethnic or racial groups -; African-American, Caucasian and Hispanic.

For more information about the "Women Living Positive" survey, visit www.thewellproject.org

Lasers Redefine Medicine At the Speed of Light

Lasers are making common medicine safer and faster.
(NewsUSA) - In the past, lasers were fictional weapons created in comics to combat evil-doers. Today, fiction has become reality as medical specialists rely on advances in laser medicine to help provide patients of all ages with better and earlier detection of disease and improved treatments for common medical problems -- combatting "evil" disease and medical problems worldwide.

"Chances are, you or someone you know has benefited from laser medicine or surgery," said R. Rox Anderson, MD, president of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS). "Lasers have had a tremendous impact on how we detect and treat diseases, improve aging skin, and manage conditions that in the past were difficult to treat with traditional therapies or systemic medications. There are no signs that this technology has reached its peak; on the contrary, we expect new laser devices and applications will continue to be discovered in the years to come."

When used in medicine, lasers work by delivering tiny pulses of light or energy in various wavelengths to target particular areas or particles in the body. Lasers and other energy sources offer patients tremendous benefits, including less-invasive procedures, reduced recovery times, elegant results, less bleeding and speedy healing. In fact, many laser procedures are now performed in a physician's office using only topical or local anesthetic -- eliminating the need for general anesthesia.

From corrective eye surgery, skin rejuvenation and dental disorders to throat surgery, treatment of acne and birthmarks, and early detection of numerous types of cancer, lasers and related technologies are improving the quality of medical and surgical care. Even persons of color, who previously were not good candidates for laser skin treatments, are now able to enjoy the advantages of most laser therapies and related technologies.

To help ensure a positive laser experience, the ASLMS suggests you consider the following tips:

1. Ask questions.

2. Find out who will be administering the treatment.

3. Discuss your medical history with your physician.

4. Ask whether this laser or other light source is right for your skin type.

5. Be realistic about expectations and results.

For more information and to find a laser doctor near you, please visit www.aslms.org

Walk Your Way to Better Health

Walking is a great way to burn calories and reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.
(NewsUSA) - Want to get outdoors, improve your health and socialize with friends? It might be time to put on your walking shoes.
Regular physical activity may help control weight and lower the risk for certain diseases.
Some exercise is always better than none. If you're not used to exercise, walking is a great way to become more active. Walking requires a pair of sturdy walking shoes to get started, and proves a viable way to burn calories, build bone density, reduce the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and socialize with friends.

Not sure how to get started? Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better, a national initiative of the Weight-control Information Network (WIN) designed to encourage Black women to exercise and eat healthier foods, offers the following tips to get moving:

* Make it fun. Find a partner. Your walking partner should be able to match your speed.

* Find proper footgear. Wear shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick, flexible soles.

* Wear clothes that will keep you dry and comfortable. Look for synthetic fabrics that absorb sweat and remove it from your skin.

* Divide your walk into sections. Warm up by walking slowly for five minutes. Then, increase your speed and do a fast walk. Finally, cool down by walking slowly again for five minutes. Do light stretching after your warm-up and cool-down.

* Try to walk as often as possible. To avoid stiff or sore muscles and joints, start gradually. Over several weeks, begin walking faster, going farther, and walking for longer periods of time. Aim for 30 minutes of walking a day on most, if not all, days of the week.

* Set goals and rewards. A goal might be participating in a fun walk or walking continuously for 30 minutes. Reward yourself when you meet a goal, but not with high-calorie foods.

For more information and tips, visit the WIN site at www.win.niddk.nih.gov.

Hip and Knee Pain: When is it Time to Consider Surgery?

Take measures to relieve joint pain before surgery is necessary.

(NewsUSA) - Chronic joint aches and pains caused by arthritis can interfere with everyday life, limiting mobility and function.

In early stages of arthritis, pain relief can be obtained from acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen or, for some, injections into the joint (intra-articular injections). However, when arthritis progresses, the cartilage between the bones disappears, and the joint is "bone on bone." At this stage, these conservative measures may not be enough.

"As the progression of arthritis cannot be stopped, patients should consider joint replacement surgery when the pain in an arthritic joint is severe and disabling," says Alejandro González Della Valle, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

The criteria used for recommending joint replacement surgery include disabling pain associated with limp, loss of function and mobility. The best candidates for surgery are people who have seen deterioration in their quality of life or impairment in their activities of daily living due to arthritic pain. Activities such as going for a walk or performing some non-impact recreational sports should not be difficult for people without major health problems.

Before arthritic pain is severe enough to consider surgery, some simple measures can be implemented to diminish pain and promote joint health.

* Respect the pain you feel. Perform activities only to the point of discomfort.

* Plan ahead and be realistic about what you can do.

* Learn how to pick things up properly. Bend from the knees when lifting and carrying weights more than 30-40 pounds.

* Reduce repetitive impact on joints, and distribute weight among them to protect joints.

* When walking more than four or five miles, wear well-padded shoes with rubber soles.

* Think about your weight. The impact on your joints will be less detrimental if you are not carrying extra weight.

"No one is too young or too old for joint replacement," says Douglas E. Padgett, M.D., chief of the Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. "Every condition can be addressed, even when compounded by other medical conditions."

The Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement Service at Hospital for Special Surgery is the world leader in hip, knee and surgical arthritis patient treatment, education, innovation and research. For more information, visit www.hss.edu.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kids Take Gum Disease to Heart

Proper oral health early in life will pay off later.

(NewsUSA) - Teaching your kids to care for their teeth will do more than ensure a healthy smile -- it may also help them avoid health problems later in life.

Many parents consider cavities a normal part of childhood -- after all, children eat more sweet foods than adults and often neglect brushing and flossing. But research links cavities and gum disease with serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease.

Research suggests that there is a relationship between gum disease and heart health. The American Academy of Periodontology reports that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease. Likewise, in a study of 657 heart-disease patients published in "Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association," lead researcher Moise Desvarieux, M.D., Ph.D. of Columbia University discovered that patients with harmful bacteria in their mouths were more likely to have a clogged artery in their neck, a precursor to stroke.

Researchers believe that, when the harmful bacteria that cause gum disease invade the gum line, they also access the bloodstream. Once they enter the circulatory system, these harmful bacteria can cause disease in other parts of the body.

But kids will be kids, and some may stop brushing their teeth before they finish singing "The Star Spangled Banner" or forget to floss after eating that ice cream cone. Even if kids are excellent brushers and flossers, they can't get rid of the harmful bacteria living in every part of their mouths.

Parents can skip the risk by giving their kids probiotics for oral care, like EvoraKids (www.myevorakids.com), a chewable that contains beneficial bacteria that are normally found in healthy mouths. When these good bacteria adhere to the teeth, they leave less room for harmful bacteria to grow, helping to support tooth health.

"Daily use of a product such as EvoraKids is an easy way to naturally maintain oral health," says Dr. Jeffrey Hillman, D.M.D., Ph.D. and chief medical officer for Oragenics. "The good bacteria inhibit the growth of the damaging bad bacteria, leading to better health and breath."

For more information, visit www.myevorakids.com.

Preparation is Key to Cold and Flu Prevention Year Round

Don't think that warm weather means that you don't have to worry about cold and flu.

(NewsUSA) - While most people associate cold and flu with winter, warmer weather does nothing to cut your risk -; you can catch a cold at any time, year round. Despite the extensive warnings about the H1N1 virus in the fall, the majority of Americans saw this past cold and flu season as about the same or only slightly worse than the previous year, according to an online survey conducted by Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., makers of Zicam Cold Remedy.

The survey also revealed that many Americans heeded the warnings about H1N1 -; in fact, 95 percent of respondents said they took proactive steps to avoid cold and flu this winter. And those who took proactive steps to defend themselves against the flu shouldn't stop now.

"It's important to remember that preparation and early treatment are the best defenses against the common cold, which can strike year round," noted Dr. Tim Tucker, Pharm.D., FAPhA, and immediate past president of the American Pharmacists Association.

Dr. Tucker recommends acting as soon as cold and flu symptoms become apparent. "Zinc products, such as Zicam Cold Remedy, can reduce the duration of your cold if taken within the first 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms," said Dr. Tucker.

In addition to basic precautions, like getting enough rest, taking a daily multivitamin, drinking fluids and washing hands, Zicam Cold Remedy offers additional tips to help you stay healthy all year:

1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and clean frequently touched surfaces, such as keyboards and door knobs.

2. Eat a balanced diet, and avoid sugar. Do treat yourself to dark chocolate, as it contains antioxidants and mood-boosters.

3. Exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes a day. Regular exercise strengthens the immune system.

4. Avoid stress. Setting a hectic schedule can cause immune-weakening stress and fatigue and interfere with your ability to get enough rest.

5. Relax. Recharge your batteries at least once a day, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes.

For more information, visit www.zicam.com.

Protect Yourself: Plan in Case of Disability

No one expects a disability to happen to them, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't practice planning and prevention.
(NewsUSA) - Monica, a 37-year-old professional and mother, shattered her elbow when she slipped on her porch. In most cases, the story would have ended there, but Monica wasn't that lucky. After her elbow surgery, Monica developed a condition called osteonecrosis, which caused her bones to crumble.

Once a successful worker in the financial sector, Monica became confined to a wheelchair and required a hired caretaker to bathe, eat and dress. Monica was awarded Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI), but it took two-and-a-half years to start seeing payments -- years in which Monica couldn't work and couldn't afford rent. Monica used up her retirement savings to pay for her care. By the time she received SSDI, it was too late to save her finances.

Unfortunately, Monica is not alone in neglecting to plan for disability. According to a 2009 Harvard study, over half of all personal bankruptcies are caused by illness or injury.Yet, many people fail to consider that disability can happen to them. According to the Council for Disability Awareness (CDA), 60 percent of people feel that their chances of becoming disabled are 2 percent or less during their working years. The real number, according to the Social Security Administration, is 30 percent.

But you can take steps to protect yourself. First, visit www.whatsmypdq.com to learn your Personal Disability Quotient (PDQ), or your chance of an injury or illness that will keep you out of the workplace for an extended amount of time.

Then, evaluate your lifestyle and see if there are any changes you can make to reduce your chances of disability. The CDA recommends cultivating healthy behaviors, such as eating well and exercising to maintain a healthy weight. Regular check-ups and cancer screenings can catch problems before they lead to disability. Simply staying aware and using activity-appropriate safety equipment, like seat belts, safety goggles and helmets, can help you avoid disabling injuries.

"Through planning and prevention, people can minimize their chances of becoming disabled -- or at least minimize the financial impact a disability can have on their income and lifestyle," said Barry Lundquist, president of the CDA. "For most people, their income is by far their most valuable asset, and their ability to earn that income cannot be taken for granted."

To learn more, join the discussion at www.twitter.com/the_CDA or explore the tools and resources available at www.disabilitycanhappen.org.

Salt and Your Health

Lowering your family's salt consumption will decrease the risk of developing high blood pressure.
(NewsUSA) - Salt is essential to keeping your body's fluids in balance. But too much salt can lead to a host of health problems.

The chemical name for dietary salt, or table salt, is sodium chloride. Most doctors focus on the sodium part.

"The best-known effect of sodium on health is the relationship between sodium and blood pressure," explains Dr. Catherine Loria of the National Institutes of Health.

Dozens of studies, in both animals and people, have shown that increasing salt intake can raise blood pressure. And high blood pressure has been linked to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and other health problems.

About one in three adults nationwide has high blood pressure. Another third have blood pressure numbers high enough to risk developing high blood pressure. That's why, Loria says, "it's really important for the majority of the population to reduce their blood pressure."

Experts recommend that people take in less than 2,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day. People with high blood pressure should shoot for 1,500 mg or less. But right now, the average man in the United States takes in over 4,000 mg of salt per day, and the average woman over 2,800 mg.

Would you miss the taste? "Several studies have shown that as you gradually reduce sodium intake, you lessen your desire for salty food," Loria says. In the U.K., where salt consumption has dropped by 10 percent over the past five years, surveys found that most people didn't notice any difference in the taste of their food.

Most of the salt in the average American's diet comes in prepared and processed foods, including restaurant food, cold cuts and canned foods. Surprisingly, over 20 percent comes from grain products, such as breads, cereals, crackers and chips.

"I think the best guidance we have is for people to pay attention to nutrition facts on the labels," Loria says. Try to choose foods that list less than 5 percent of the daily value of sodium per serving on the nutrition facts label.

Even small reductions in salt can help your blood pressure. If you can't find a low-salt alternative to a particular food, try something that's lower than what you usually buy.

Why not start now? Make small changes at first, and then keep working to gradually lower your family's salt intake.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

10 Tips for Better Sleep Hygiene

Sufficient sleep isn't a luxury, but a necessity.

(NewsUSA) - Between office meeting and errands, sports practice and studies, many people sacrifice sleep for a few more hours of productivity. According to the National Sleep Foundation, fewer than half of Americans report getting adequate sleep every night.

But sleep deprivation results in more than just yawns. Inadequate sleep has been linked to depression, weight gain, hypertension, poor concentration and memory retention, and accidents.

Take driving, an activity that most Americans perform daily. In a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, 54 percent of respondents said that they have driven while drowsy. Twenty-eight percent confessed to falling asleep at the wheel. People know that alcohol impairs driving, but too few consider sleep deprivation's effect on their motor skills. Drowsy driving causes thousands of accidents each year.

Setting aside seven to eight hours for sleeping isn't a luxury -; it's a necessity. The American Sleep Apnea Association offers 10 tips for better sleep hygiene:

1. Set a sleep schedule, and stick to it.

2. Don't nap for more than 45 minutes a day.

3. Avoid excessive alcohol intake within four hours of bedtime. Do not smoke.

4. Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime.

5. Avoid spicy food six hours before bedtime.

6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.

7. Use comfortable bedding.

8. Keep your room at a comfortable temperature.

9. Block out noise, and eliminate as much light as possible.

10. Do not use the bed as an office, workroom or recreation room.

If you feel tired even after sleeping eight hours, an undiagnosed sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, may be to blame. In sleep apnea, the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep, blocking the airway. Sufferers wake up for a few seconds every time they stop breathing, sometimes hundreds of times a night. Visit www.sleepapnea.org to find out your "Snore Score," or the likelihood that you have sleep apnea. The disorder can be treated, so it's important to speak to a doctor if you experience excessive daytime fatigue.

Cutting Health Care Spending Without Cutting Health Coverage

Regular checkups can save you money on health insurance.

(NewsUSA) - During these tough economic times, as America continues to look at cost cutting options, many people will be shopping for a health insurance plan. It's important to know that there are health plans that are affordable and are a fit for you and your family while still offering the coverage you need to protect your family.

Know your needs. What types of coverage are most important to you? Do you or a family member take a prescription regularly? Knowing how much coverage you need is important when deciding which health care plan is best.

Learn the lingo. Some insurers are working to use more consumer-friendly language. Learning how a high-deductible plan tied to a health savings account (HSA) that offers choice among physicians and hospitals and how it works best with your needs, is important.

Availability when you need it most. Many insurers are working hard to ensure customers have health-related information when they need it, such as:

* Use of understandable consumer-friendly language

* Access to customer call centers and nurse hotlines 24/7, 365 days a year, giving constant access to a nurse or person to help solve a claims issue

* Online tools to search for claims information and check for benefit qualifications, co-pays, and deductibles

* Tools to compare prices on the drugs you need, helping find the best prices available

Schedule that yearly appointment. Regular checkups can help prevent potential problems or catch conditions early, saving money.

Note to editors: The following states may find this story useful: CA, CO, AZ, TX, TN, FL, GA, NC, CT, SC

Look for "extras." Many insurers offer discounts for programs such as smoking cessation, weight loss, fitness club memberships and other services already being used by an individual.

Quality matters. Feel confident about choosing the right individual plan for you. Check out report cards for different plans on the National Committee for Quality Assurance's Web site, available at http://reportcard.ncqa.org/plan/external/plansearch.aspx.

For information about individual health products from CIGNA, visit www.cignaforyou.com/hctips.

Sleeping Beauty -- Skin Tips for Youthful Skin at Night

Your skin repairs and restores itself overnight.
(NewsUSA) - In the morning, you might cleanse, tone and moisturize. But your nighttime skin care routine requires more than just a quick swipe with a washcloth. In fact, your skin needs additional TLC before bedtime.

During the day, environmental factors are battling against our skin and breaking down the structural components which keep our skin tight and firm. Elastin, which is one of these components, is primarily composed of cross-linked fibers to form a durable, resilient web. In facial skin, this elastin web helps to keep skin flexible but tight, providing a bounce-back reaction to its normal shape as it stretches to accommodate normal activities like talking.

As skin ages, the natural cross-linking of elastin fibers is reduced. At night, while you sleep, the skin works to repair and restore its structural components, and actually "opens up" to allow creams and serums to absorb more readily. You can get the most bang for your buck, then, by applying products with powerful anti-aging ingredients before bed.

"It's important to establish a nighttime skincare regimen to restore skin's defenses and replenish essential moisture," explains nutritionist Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD. She adds that the skin can lose moisture during sleep, making hydrating ingredients especially important.

To help skin restore itself at night, women should adopt a nighttime skin care routine that includes an exfoliating cleanser, a serum and a moisturizing cream created for evening use. Sass

recommends applying a nighttime serum containing beneficial and robust ingredients such as DDF Restoring Night Serum (www.ddfskincare.com). This nighttime serum contains an exclusive turmeric complex that strengthens the moisture barrier and drenches the skin with essential hydration to allow the natural cross linking of elastin, helping to repair the look of deep wrinkles for visible results in just two weeks. Women who used DDF Restoring Night Serum saw noticeable improvements. After four weeks of use, the skin's surface structure doubled in strength, significantly minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

"The secret to radiant, firm and more youthful-looking skin is a skincare diet rich in robust ingredients," says Sass.

For more information, visit www.ddfskincare.com.

Four Ingredients to Maximize Weight-Loss Success

Exercise, along with key ingredients, can maximize weight-loss success.

(NewsUSA) - There is no single factor that causes weight gain, and there is no single secret to weight loss. Instead, the most successful weight-loss plans target multiple factors that may contribute to weight gain.

A weight-loss plan should include eating healthy, balanced meals and getting regular exercise, as well as regular supplements. The makers of Diet 360 tablets provide a multidimensional approach to weight loss through four key ingredients:

- Ashwagandha extract. An herb used in Ayurvedic medicine that can help regulate cortisol levels in the body. High levels of cortisol contribute to stress, which can contribute to weight gain.

- Fucoxanthin. An antioxidant derived from brown seaweed that may help to improve metabolism, which can help the body burn more calories.

- Blueberry leaf/bayberry bark extract. The combination of these two plant extracts has been associated with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and promoting glucose metabolism.

- Slimpure. A trademarked green coffee extract that is designed to help increase lean muscle mass.

In addition, these ingredients can help promote weight loss by targeting many of the factors that contribute to weight gain. Some common factors that can contribute to weight gain include:

- Stress. Stress has been associated with binge eating, carbohydrate cravings and poor sleep, all of which can play a role in weight gain.

- Low energy. If your metabolism is slow, you may burn fewer calories, and you may be more susceptible to weight gain.

- Lack of lean muscle mass. A lower percentage of lean muscle mass can foster weight gain; increasing lean muscle mass can help with weight loss.

- Unhealthy blood sugar. Unhealthy blood sugar may be associated with weight gain by promoting the creation of new fat cells.

For more information about how to simplify your weight-loss plan, visit the Diet 360 Web site:www.thebetterhealthstore.com/diet360. To order Diet 360 quickly and easily, visit the Better Health Store: www.thebetterhealthstore.com.

Dry Winter Skin: How to Deal with it

Your skin in winter can become very dry - even to the point of being painful. I myself began feeling the effects of the cooler weather in early October. It usually doesn't hit me this hard but this year I'm having a real difficult time with it. My lips became tender and chapped, and I had to switch to a different formula of daily facial cleanser because the exfoliating beads in my current cleanser were irritating my skin. My face became red and flushed. I'll have to limit my daily exfoliation to just twice a week. Also my hands and feet became very dry.

Ah, winter. It can be so peaceful yet so unforgiving. Indoors you're subjected to dry heat and outdoors you're bombarded with harsh winter UV rays from the sun and chilling winds. Yes, the sun's rays are still just as dangerous as they are in the summer and they will reflect off any snowy surfaces, bouncing the rays right back on to you. You're going to need a good facial moisturizer with SPF in it.

Here are some more tips to help you combat dry winter skin:
1)Use a lip balm (preferably with SPF) and do not lick your lips under any circumstances. That just makes it worse.
2)Keep your hands moisturized with a good quality hand cream. Make sure you have a tube of hand cream with you at all times.
3)Drink plenty of water and limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a dehydrator.
4)Buy a humidifier if you don't already have one. It may help keep your heating bills down as well. You know, the whole heat and humidity thing. Think Amazon rainforest.
5)Use a shower filter. It will filter out the skin-drying chlorine in your tap water. Avoid using hot water in the shower even though it feels so good on a cold winter morning. It will only strip your skin of its natural oils and cause water to evaporate more quickly. Use warm water onyl. Also, it pays to switch from soap which can dry the skin, to a silky body wash which will help your skin retain moisture. Pat your skin dry when exiting the shower, don't rub. Apply a nice moisturizer while your skin is still damp to help seal in moisture.

When the humidity drops to 50 percent or less, you will need to pay even more attention to your moisturization routine. Stay away from harsh scrubs or cleansers since they will eliminate most of the skin's oils and dry your skin out more easily. This applies to skin care products as well as cleaning products.

My favorite winter skin care tip is before you go to bed, apply a thick, rich moisturizer to your feet, concentrating on the heel area. Then put on a nice cushy pair of socks. When you wake up your feet will be soft and smooth and well-hydrated.

Not paying attention to extremely dry skin can lead to health issues and act as a welcome mat for rashes and skin infections. So take good care of your skin and enjoy your winter!

Author Bio
Katrina Price is a skin care consultant and the owner of www.skincareteacher.com

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com - Free Website Content

Natural Supplements for Womens Health: Blood Sugar

One of the problems that women face is a blood sugar. There are a number of factors that can cause high blood sugar levels. Pregnancy and menopause change estrogen levels which affect metabolism and how body processes fat. In turn, that affects blood sugar levels. Menstruation also affects blood sugar, at least indirectly. Everyone has heard about "those pesky hormones" and all about craving certain foods like salty items such as chips or everyone's favorite treat, chocolate. With some dietary changes and a little help from supplements you can achieve a healthy balance in your blood sugar levels.

Tackling the Diet

Carbohydrates are important for your body, but eating too many of them in your diet can cause your blood sugar to have more drastic highs and lows. In addition, you'll find that more fat collects along your midriff and hips. By being selective in the types of carbs you ingest, you will still get what you need in your diet but without those blood sugar swings.

Just say no to processed foods. Basically white foods - anything with white flour and sugars - are converted more quickly to glucose in your body. This causes a spike in your blood sugar levels that lasts just a short time. Before you know it, your energy plummets and you feel lethargic because that "sugar rush" is gone. Then, in order to get that energy level back up, you eat more carbs and the cycle starts all over again.

By choosing carbohydrates that are found in whole grain foods, your body has to work harder to process them. What this means for you is that extreme high-low factor goes away and you are left with a more balanced blood sugar level and your energy level is more consistent. And because your body works harder to process these types of carbohydrates, you are expending calories, meaning less fat gets deposited in your mid-section.

Vitamins and Supplements

While taking care with your diet helps greatly, sometimes you just need an additional boost. This is where women supplements and vitamins for women come in. Business is booming with herbal supplements and special vitamin formulas. But which ones help with your blood sugar?

When your blood sugar levels fluctuate, it can be draining on your body and leave you feeling a bit sluggish. Taking supplements for women that contain chromium might give you a boost and alleviate some of that fatigue. If you have diabetes or might be prone to developing it, ginseng can also be beneficial. It has been known to boost metabolism and help control blood sugar.

If you are looking for vitamins or supplements you have to make sure you only buy high quality products. Always look for products from companies that only specialize in vitamins and supplements products for women. One of the companies that makes nutrients for women and specializes in supplements for women health is nutraOrigin.

There are a number of other women vitamins and supplements that could also be beneficial. However, be sure the check with your doctor to determine which ones might be best for you. If you are taking other medications, certain vitamins or women supplements might counteract with them.

It all boils down to common sense. Do your research into the different vitamins and supplements. Make positive changes in your diet. Women are built differently than men. Therefore, you must be more diligent with your body and what goes into it for your health.

Author Bio
This article was provided by nutraOrigin - the makers of nature-based supplements for women. For more information about various women health issues, tips and nutraOrigin products, visit http://www.nutraorigin.com/.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com - Free Website Content

Study Links ED to Heart Attack

Erectile dysfunction can indicate a more serious health problem.
(NewsUSA) - A new study suggests that men experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED) need to worry about more than their sex life -- in men with cardiovascular disease, ED can indicate a greater risk of heart attack.

The study of 1,500 men, which was published in "Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association," found that men with both ED and cardiovascular disease were twice as likely to have a heart attack than men with cardiovascular disease, but no ED. And the worse the ED, the greater the risk.

This research only confirms what doctors have known for years -- men need to take ED seriously.

The male organ serves as the barometer of a man's overall health, with dysfunction often acting as a precursor for other existing or potential health issues. Studies have established that men with ED are more likely to develop heart problems like heart attack, cardiac death, stroke and angina, or chest pain. ED can also be an early sign of diabetes, high cholesterol levels and other physical ailments. Even mild symptoms of ED can mean that there are issues in other parts of a man's body.

Before addressing ED, men should make sure that they are otherwise healthy. Doctors who specifically deal with sexual dysfunction issues, such as physicians with Boston Medical Group ( http://www.bostonmedicalgroup.com ), can identify underlying issues that may be causing ED.

Treatment is available even for men with diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer and kidney or liver problems, who often have trouble taking oral medications for ED, due to potentially serious systemic side effects. Intracavernous pharmocotherapy (ICP) -- a small and minimally invasive injection of a combination of FDA-approved medications -- may be a better option. Other alternatives include intraurethral suppository and vacuum suction devices.

Sex is an important part of physical, psychological and emotional health. Men experiencing ED should ask their doctor about treatment options -- but only after looking for underlying health issues that may be causing the problem.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Brushing Up on Tooth Decay

It takes more than brushing to maintain a healthy mouth.
(NewsUSA) - You teach your kids to brush their teeth, yet every trip to the dentist could reveal another cavity. But don't fret. You're not doing anything wrong -- children can still develop dental cavities, or areas where harmful bacteria damage hard tooth structure, in spite of every precaution. In fact, tooth decay remains the most common chronic condition in children and adolescents.

"Kids have very special oral care needs, and are much more likely than adults to form cavities," says Dr. Jeffrey Hillman, D.M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Oragenics, Inc. For one thing, children tend to like sugary foods, which make them more likely to develop cavities. But sugar does not cause cavities directly -- sugar feeds the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Brushing can help prevent tooth decay by removing plaque, or buildup of bad bacteria, but it's not a perfect technique. For one thing, it only takes 20 minutes after eating to develop plaque, and few children brush and floss immediately after eating. Also, brushing can't remove plaque from between teeth. To fight plaque between teeth, parents should floss their children's teeth at least once a day until about age 10, when children can start flossing for themselves.

In addition to daily brushing and flossing, oral care probiotics, or "good" bacteria, may help. Dr. Hillman recommends giving children an oral care probiotic supplement, such as EvoraKids (www.myevorakids.com). He explains that oral care probiotics work by flooding the mouth with good bacteria, which adhere to tooth surfaces, including crevices, pits and fissures in the chewing surfaces, leaving less room for bad bacteria to grow. "The probiotics effectively compete with certain harmful bacteria for both nutrients and space on teeth surfaces, reaching where brushing and flossing can't," says Dr. Hillman.

Despite all of your best efforts at home, a trip to the dentist can still do wonders. Regularly scheduled dentist checkups are critical to any healthy mouth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents take their children to the dentist by age one

New Tax Perks Could Help Businesses Save Thousands

New tax laws encourage businesses to add employees.

(NewsUSA) - New tax laws could save businesses thousands on their 2010 taxes. The tax breaks are meant to encourage businesses to add employees, purchase equipment and provide employee healthcare.

The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act included a payroll tax exemption for hiring and keeping new workers. Under the new law, businesses can exempt the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax for wages paid between March 18, 2010 and December 31, 2010, for each new employee meeting all the following criteria:

* Hired after February 3, 2010, and before January 1, 2011

* Either unemployed during the 60 days before being hired or worked less than 40 hours in total during that 60-day period

* Not a family member or other relative

The exemption does not apply to wages paid to an employee hired to replace an existing worker, unless the existing worker left voluntarily or was terminated for cause.

Employers are required to keep either Form W-11 or an affidavit signed by the employee (as proof they meet the criteria) in their records. The exemption is claimed on quarterly Form 941.

Businesses retaining the employees for 52 consecutive weeks without significantly decreasing wages in the second half of the year can claim a new hire retention credit of up to $1,000 per worker on 2011 returns.

The HIRE Act also extended the Section 179 first-year expensing cap on depreciable business property for 2010. The limit remains at $250,000 instead of decreasing to $125,000. The $800,000 cost-of-equipment limit was also extended for 2010.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010, allows businesses and tax-exempt organizations to earn a tax credit for providing or maintaining employee health insurance.

Jessi Dolmage, spokeswoman for 2nd Story Software, makers of TaxACT, explained that businesses with 10 or fewer full-time equivalent employees with an average annual salary of $25,000 or less can earn the maximum credit of 35 percent, while tax-exempt organizations can receive 25 percent. Employers must pay at least half the cost of single coverage for employees. The credit decreases as the number of qualifying employees and average salary increase, phasing out at 25 full-time equivalent employees with an average salary of $50,000 or more. Family members do not qualify.

In 2014, the maximum credit amount will increase to 50 percent of the premiums paid for businesses and 35 percent for tax-exempt organizations.

Businesses can claim the credit under the general business credit, and the IRS will send instructions to tax-exempt organizations.

More information about the HIRE Act, health care credit and other tax breaks for businesses can be found at www.irs.gov.

TaxACT Business Editions walk you step-by-step through credits and deductions to minimize your tax liability. Answer simple questions, and TaxACT does the calculations and completes the forms for you. Then use TaxACT Free Federal Edition to prepare, print and e-file your personal tax return free.

Visit www.taxact.com to learn more.

Tips to Keep Preschoolers' Teeth Healthy

If your child wants to eat a piece of candy, make sure it is small enough that they can consume it all at once. Always make them brush their teeth soon afterward.

(NewsUSA) - Preschoolers' smiling teeth do more than just bring joy to the people who see them. Preschoolers' teeth also help them chew and speak, and they create space in the jaw for adult teeth to grow in straight. Unfortunately, these "baby teeth" are also prone to early childhood caries or baby bottle tooth decay, also known as cavities.

How do preschoolers develop cavities? As in adults, children's mouths are filled with bacteria. Whenever a child consumes sugar or starch, the bacteria feed on the sugar, releasing acid as a byproduct. This acid can break down the outer layer of the tooth, creating cavities.

So, how can parents ensure that preschoolers' teeth stay healthy? Here are some tips:

* Keep preschoolers' teeth clean. By the time a child has reached age 2 to 5, they should be on their way to caring for their own teeth. By age three, they should have a full set of baby teeth. Most children at this age will want to brush their teeth on their own, but it is important to supervise and help them until they are doing it correctly. Do a quick follow-up brushing if necessary with a soft-bristled tooth brush.

* Use probiotics. Oral care probiotics can be an effective step in a preschooler's oral care routine. If left unchecked, bad

bacteria can overwhelm the mouth, possibly leading to tooth decay. EvoraKids (www.myevorakids.com), a chewable containing a special blend of oral care probiotics designed for children, works by flooding the mouth with good bacteria, which adhere to tooth surfaces, including crevices, pits and fissures in the chewing surfaces, helping to promote happy smiles. It supports tooth health by balancing the bacteria in the mouth.

* Limit sweets. Sugar produces an acid that removes calcium from teeth, thereby breaking down the enamel. Only give children fruit for snacks, not cookies or crackers with refined sugar. If you do keep sweets in your house, only give children candy that they can consume all at once. Always make them brush their teeth soon after eating candy to remove any sugars that may still be sitting in the mouth.

* Avoid sharing silverware with your child. Never put your mouth on anything that will enter your child's mouth -- children aren't born with destructive bacteria in the mouth, they catch them from mom and dad.

How to Be a Prepared Patient

Be prepared to ask your doctor for written explanations and instructions.

(NewsUSA) - Aches and pains aren't always readily attributable to a particular disease, and receiving a medical diagnosis often takes more than one doctor's visit. Doctor-patient teamwork can help facilitate an efficient and proper diagnosis. Becoming an advocate for your own health and knowing the right questions to ask your doctor can help.

How can you take a more active role in helping your doctor understand your health condition? One simple solution provided by the Arthritis Foundation is to "Take P.A.R.T."

P - Prepare a list of questions, concerns and symptoms to discuss. Keep a detailed journal of your symptoms, including the times they occurred and associated environmental factors. For example, was a particular pain triggered by a certain food or activity?

A - Ask questions during your appointment. It's a good idea to bring a list of questions with you, as well as a friend or family member to ask questions you may not have identified.

R - Repeat what your doctor recommends so you can be sure you understand. Ask for written instructions.

T - Take action. Inform your doctor of your lifestyle and habits, as well as any concerns and preferences, so a treatment plan can be customized to your specific needs.

"Patients who track their symptoms are better prepared to communicate effectively with their doctors," said Dr. John Klippel, CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. "Accurate information helps both parties work together to determine the best possible treatment options."

Fostering open communication with one's doctor is particularly important for patients with hard-to-diagnose diseases like the autoimmune disorder rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as symptoms can be attributed to other medical conditions. Furthermore, there is no single diagnostic test for RA.

There are programs that help patients and doctors work together to manage health conditions by communicating openly. The Arthritis Foundation's Let's Talk RA program, sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb, offers national meetings, educational podcasts and a communication kit that includes step-by-step discussion tips, as well as a symptom tracker that RA patients can use with their rheumatologists -; all at no cost.

The Let's Talk RA communication kit can be ordered at no charge through the Arthritis Foundation's Web site, www.arthritis.org/letstalkra

Women: Don't Let Migraines Take Over Your Life

(NewsUSA) - According to the National Headache Foundation, many women report that migraines make them feel like they're losing control of their own lives. But women can take steps to keep migraines from interfering with day-to-day activities.

Migraine is the most common form of disabling headache, affecting about 50 million Americans. About 75 percent of the Americans suffering migraines are women. Doctors believe that fluctuations in hormone levels, which women undergo until menopause, may be responsible.

Migraines cause such severe pain that most sufferers find themselves debilitated, and women juggling professional and domestic responsibilities can ill afford to put their lives on hold. Luckily, faster and more effective treatments are becoming available. The makers of LipiGesic-M (www.lipigesic.com), a non-prescription migraine medication, offer the following tips:

* Start a migraine journal. Most migraines are caused by specific triggers. Learn what triggers cause your migraines, and you learn how to prevent them. Start a journal in which you record waking time, bedtime, temperature, meals eaten and whether or not you are having a period. When you do have migraines, you can look into your journal for trends. Common triggers include lack of or too much sleep, skipped meals, loud noises, wine, caffeine, stress, weather changes and foods containing aspartame, MSG or nitrates.

* Try all-natural solutions. Certain herbs, such as peppermint and ginger, may help ease headaches. Feverfew, a plant related to daisies, may be especially effective in treating migraines. LipiGesic-M uses a revolutionary sublingual delivery method to speed its migraine-fighting ingredients into the bloodstream, resulting in quick pain relief. You can get on with your life within minutes.

* Reduce stress. Everyday stresses, such as an upcoming deadline or worries about a child's grades, cause most headaches. Help eliminate stress by exercising, eating healthily, getting enough rest and practicing relaxation techniques, like meditation.

For more information, visit www.lipigesic.com.

Fight Against Childhood Obesity Begins at Home

(NewsUSA) - Schools nationwide are revamping their lunch menus, celebrity chefs are going on reality TV and First Lady Michelle Obama has started a health initiative, all to combat the same thing -- childhood obesity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 25 million American children are obese or overweight, setting them up for a lifetime of health problems, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Many school systems have made attempts to provide healthier school lunches, such as offering salad bars or fresh fruit.

Food and drink makers are also making efforts to solve the problem. Companies like Coca-Cola have removed regular soft drinks from schools, and recently, major beverage companies, together with the William J. Clinton Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, announced that they have successfully cut total calories from drinks delivered to schools by 88 percent over the last three years.

"From my experience, schools alone cannot stop children from becoming overweight or obese," says registered dietitian Sylvia Klinger. "It is very important for parents to make an effort to encourage healthy eating habits at home and outside of the classroom."

Klinger suggests these tips for parents who want their children to live healthy, active lives:

* Make healthy foods easy. We're all familiar with the phrase "eat the rainbow." To make it easy to get your family to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, chop bite-sized portions in advance, so you can take them out of the fridge and run. Sneak fruits into smoothies, and veggies into sauces, salsas or soups. Also, look for individually packaged whole-grain products, like 100 percent whole wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice.

* Create healthy eating habits. Always eat breakfast -- children who eat breakfast not only weigh less, but also perform better in school. It is also important to schedule regular meal times. Try involving your children in the preparation of each meal. Avoid the clean plate system, which only promotes overeating. Also, don't ban treats, which can encourage sneaking food or overeating when sweets are present.

* Get active. Exercise is important regardless of your child's weight or age. If your child is overweight, focus on maintaining that weight while the child grows in height, which can be accomplished through exercise. No matter your child's size, activities like team sports, swimming, hiking, cycling or just taking a family walk can help manage weight, increase energy and improve self-esteem.