Health Buzz: Junk Food Laws May Help Curb Obesity

Do’s and don’t of healthy hair; the best non-diet diet

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School Snack Laws May Help Prevent Obesity

Junk food laws may help curb kids' obesity, a new study suggests. Students who lived in states with laws governing the sale of unhealthy snacks at school gained less weight over three years than kids in states without those laws, according to findings published Monday in Pediatrics. And kids who lived in states with restrictive laws and were overweight or obese in fifth grade were less likely to be that way by eighth grade than students in other states. Such laws typically govern food in vending machines, snack bars, and other venues that aren't part of regular school meal programs. They set specific nutrition requirements, such as limits on sugar, fats, and salt content. "This is the first real evidence that the laws are likely to have an impact," Virginia Stallings, director of the nutrition center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told the Associated Press

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  • Do's and Don't of Healthy Hair

    Oh, those strands. We spend a lot of time looking at our hair, touching it, tending to it: Choosing the most effective shampoo and conditioner. Washing, blow-drying, and styling it. Coloring it. Curling or straightening it. But that doesn't necessarily mean our tresses are healthy. "People often don't have a good hair routine," says celebrity hairstylist Jamal Hammadi, who's based in Los Angeles. "We've got a bazillion moisturizers and protectors for our face, but we're abusing and depleting our hair."

    So how do you keep those locks shiny and healthy? Hair experts weigh in: 

    Do: Take care of your overall health. Hair is an ever-growing tissue affected by our physical well-being, says Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York. (Trichologists specialize in hair and scalp health.) "Have you had a recent physical? How are you eating? Are you managing your stress, or is it managing you?" she says. Diet, particularly getting enough protein and iron, is vital to hair health. Stress can accelerate shedding, particularly in the shower. And a medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, could also cause hair issues. 

    Don't: Swim unprotected. What could possibly dampen a day at the beach or pool? Salt water or chlorine. Both can wreak havoc on hair, drying it out, causing split ends, and stripping color. Phillips recommends applying a strong leave-in conditioning treatment to damp hair before hitting the water. [Read more: Do's and Don'ts of Healthy Hair

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    • The Best Non-Diet Diet 

      Zone Diet? Atkin's Diet? Mediterranean Diet? Which one doesn't belong in this group? In my opinion, the Mediterranean Diet should have never even been called a diet; it's a lifestyle, writes registered dietitian and U.S. News blogger Bonnie Taub-Dix. It's not as if the Mediterraneans sat around a table thousands of years ago and said, "Hey, let's create a diet." Instead, families from that region—mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and children—sat around a table together, all sharing delicious meals and conversations. They ate food that was available and grown or raised locally. 

      Although I have visited Italy, France, and Spain, it wasn't until a recent trip to Turkey and Greece that I truly realized there isn't just one Mediterranean Diet; each country from that area has it's own distinctive foods and customs. In general, Mediterranean diets emphasize whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruit; less meat and poultry, more fish; and moderate amounts of wine. Their fat is derived mostly from heart-healthy olive oil, nuts, and avocado, and dairy sources are enjoyed mainly through yogurt and cheese. 

      Despite a history of colorful and culturally-rich cuisine, the obesity crisis that's plaguing our country has spread across the globe like an ink blot on a paper towel. It seems that in many Mediterranean households where both parents are working and kids are eating more than moving, the Mediterranean diet may not even be on their menu. It's as if the desire for convenience and low cost is trumping the need for valuing tradition and health. [Read more: The Best Non-Diet Diet