Health Buzz: Facebook Hurts Body Image

Coming this summer: hospital ranking by state. Plus, 13 reasons not skimp on sleep

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Facebook Users More Weight Conscious

Feeling fat? Blame Facebook. The popular social networking site may be promoting poor body image among its users, according to a new survey from the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Maryland. About 75 percent of Facebook users said they were unhappy with their bodies, and 51 percent said seeing photos of themselves on the site made them more weight conscious. Slightly more than 30 percent said they felt sad when they compared Facebook photos of themselves to their friends' photos. "People are now constantly aware of their appearance, thanks to Facebook," Steven Crawford, associate director at the center, told TechNewsDaily. "A common reaction is, 'I need to be thinner.' And it's that kind of thinking that can lead to hazardous dieting. Facebook is an influential factor in developing severe eating disorders."

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  • Coming This Summer: Hospital Rankings by State

    This summer's 2012-13 Best Hospitals release will showcase a new feature: state rankings. It reflects a continuing effort to make Best Hospitals useful to families whether their home is a megalopolis, a small town, or something in between. The new rankings will show every hospital in their state that met our rigorous standards.

    We already rank hospitals within 94 metro areas with 500,000 or more residents, so why bother? Aren't most first-rate hospitals found in major metro areas? Yes—and no. Let's look at the numbers.

    Out of 4,825 U.S. hospitals put through our data mill to generate the 2011-12 rankings, just 140 emerged as Best Hospitals in even a single specialty. (There are 16 specialties in the rankings.) And sure enough, 133 of the 140 were in the 94 designated metro areas. Another 587 hospitals in those metro areas scored a notch below the nation's best but were in the highest one-fourth of all hospitals that qualified to be ranked in at least one specialty. That top 25 percent performance was ample evidence, in our judgment, to make these high performers worth consideration for all but the most challenging patients. Our metro area rankings include them. [Read more: Coming This Summer: Hospital Rankings by State.]

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    • 13 Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep

      Scheduling a good night's sleep could be one of the smartest health priorities you set. It's not just daytime drowsiness you risk when shortchanging yourself on your seven to nine hours. (More than 35 percent of adults routinely clock less than seven hours per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.) Possible health consequences of getting too little or poor sleep can involve the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems. In addition to letting life get in the way of good sleep, between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder—such as insomnia or sleep apnea—that affects daily functioning and impinges on health. Here's a look at the research:

      1) Less may mean more. Among people who sleep under seven hours a night, the fewer zzzz's they get, the more obese they tend to be, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report. This may relate to the discovery that insufficient sleep appears to tip hunger hormones out of whack. Leptin, which suppresses appetite, is lowered; ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, gets a boost.

      2) You're more apt to make bad food choices. A study published in 2008 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that people with obstructive sleep apnea or other severely disordered breathing while asleep ate a diet higher in cholesterol, protein, total fat, and total saturated fat. Women were especially affected. [Read more: 13 Reasons Not to Skimp on Sleep.]

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