Health Buzz: Sleeping Babies and Other Health News

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Does Slumber Help Infants Stay Slim?

Parents know: Growing children need their rest. Might sleeping too little lead to weight gain? That's the finding of two new studies published in a special issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine that's devoted to research on children and sleep. "The combination of too little sleep and too much TV is associated with markedly elevated risk of obesity," Elsie M. Taveras, lead author of one report and an assistant professor of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School, told HealthDay. Babies who get less than 12 hours of sleep a day, for example, may have twice the risk of being overweight by the time they reach preschool.

Myth of the 'Freshman 15' Grows Stale

There's a widespread notion that college students tend to put on plenty of pounds during their first year away at school. But new research suggests that the so-called "Freshman 15" is closer to 5 pounds. A new study found that 36 first-year students at Auburn University in Alabama gained an average of 1.9 pounds during the first semester and 4.8 pounds for the entire year. Men put on about 5.4 pounds on average, and women added about 3.2 pounds. The new myth-busting study is more or less consistent with earlier research. Previous studies found that college freshmen gained about 2.7 pounds during their first year, with men putting on about 3.7 pounds and women adding about 1.7 pounds.

A Milestone for the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid --an attempt by nutrition experts to promote an alternative to the typical overprocessed, fat- and sugar-laden American diet--turned 15 this year, reports Katherine Hobson. Researchers continue to study broader eating patterns with a focus on finding the overall combination of foods that is associated with better health, without necessarily pinpointing individual elements of the diet that are responsible. That may involve studying how people in different areas of the world eat or, here at home, using statistics to study which foods the healthiest among us consume.

Depression and Dementia

Depression may more than double the risk of developing dementia, according to a new study published in the April issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. Researchers learned that people with depression may be more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease but that symptoms of depression don't seem to increase in the years before being diagnosed with the illness. Depressive symptoms may be linked to changes in the brain that lessen its resistance to dementia, the study reports. "Understanding the mechanisms linking depressive symptoms with dementia could suggest novel approaches to delaying dementia onset," the authors write.