Health Buzz: Let the Kids Play, Experts Say

Google's most popular diets of 2012; Plus, happy hangover-free new year!

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Don't Cut Students' Playtime, Pediatricians Say

New research suggests that recess isn't only important for kids in terms of kickball games and note-passing, but for developing in a variety of ways. Physical activity is one of the most obvious reasons folks lobby for recess, especially given that more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2008, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in its statement today, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that recess can also help students develop cognitive skills, extend their attention spans in class, and enhance social and emotional development, reports ABC News. Citing two decades worth of research on unstructured playtime, the authors of the policy statement said that the AAP "believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child's development, and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons," reports ABC News.

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  • Google's Most Popular Diets of 2012: Hit or Miss?

    As the year comes to an end, I like to think about all the diets that have come and gone, writes U.S. News blogger Keri Gans. This year I did an online search and found a list of Google's top trending diets, based on queries with the highest amount of traffic. Below are my thoughts on the diets deemed 2012's most popular:

    1. Michael Phelps Diet

    Pros: Michael Phelps is certainly lucky to be able to consume 12,000 calories per day, eat whatever he wants, and still look and perform as well as he does—at least for now.

    Cons: The average person, even those of us who are very active, could never consume anywhere close to 12,000 calories per day, let alone follow a diet that provides so much fat and sugar. I think this should be a one-man diet, for Phelps only.

    2. Beyond Diet

    Pros: This gluten-free plan is built around an online community that includes recipes, shopping lists, and a 24-hour question and answer support section. Co-founder Isabel De Los Rios recommends healthy foods like fruits, veggies, raw nuts, eggs, wild fish, and meat, with a focus on natural foods.

    Cons: I don't approve of a gluten-free diet being promoted to all members of the community. Experts agree that going gluten-free is only necessary for those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. [Read more: Google's Most Popular Diets of 2012: Hit or Miss?]

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    • Happy Hangover-Free New Year!

      When you hear the term, "drink responsibly," you'll probably think about the connection between drinking and driving, writes U.S. News blogger Bonnie Taub-Dix. Around this time of year, that association could represent the difference between life and death.

      Too much alcohol could also result in a date with the porcelain bowl if you're not careful or bring a throbbing headache the day after drinking. Whatever comes to your mind when you envision a hangover, it's not a pretty picture.

      Heavily hitting the bottle could ruin a few precious vacation days, too. So instead of focusing on how to cure your hangover, you'll probably have a better time at that New Year's Day brunch by taking some simple steps to avoid going overboard altogether. Here's how you can still belt down a few without ending up down on the floor:

      1. Prevent problems by pre-fueling. The meal you have before you drink could determine how drunk, or sick, you'll feel. Eating will help "coat your stomach" by slowing down the absorption of alcohol. Meals that include a mixture of protein, whole-grain carbs, and fat will do the trick. Combinations like almond butter on whole-wheat toast, cereal and milk, or cheese and crackers will help delay the absorption of alcohol and give you more time to enjoy a New Year's Eve party you'll remember on New Year's Day. [Read more: Happy Hangover-Free New Year!]

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