Health Buzz: 1 in 5 High School Girls Binge Drinks, CDC Says

What makes a healthy diet? Plus, the new you and improved diet

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CDC: Binge Drinking Common Among Adult Women and High School Girls

One in eight adult women in the United States binge drinks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These folks typically binge drink about three times per month, and consume an average of six drinks on each occasion. Binge drinking means consuming four or five alcoholic drinks in about two hours, and it's most prevalent among high school girls and women ages 18 to 34. In fact, 1 in 5 high school girls binge drinks, according to the CDC's Vital Signs report, released yesterday. The report also states that among all women, the prevalence of binge drinking increases with household income, and was highest in households earning $75,000 or more. "Effective community measures can support women and girls in making wise choices about whether to drink or how much to drink if they do," CDC Director Thomas Frieden told USA Today. "Each of us can choose not to binge drink."

Binge drinking is associated with a slew of health risks. In the short term, drinkers can face injuries ranging from car crashes to domestic violence to alcohol poisoning to simply falling down the steps. Binge drinking can also lead to liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and neurological damage, according to the CDC.

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  • What Makes a Healthy Diet?

    Psyched because you lost 20 pounds in a month, and all it took was—you know—denying yourself necessary, nutrient-packed foods? Maybe you spent the past four weeks eating only baby food, guzzling grapefruit juice, or eating a plain salad three times a day. Indeed, weight lost doesn't always equal health gained. That new diet that took inches off your waistline could be harming your health if it locks out or severely restricts entire food groups, like carbs, relies on supplements with little scientific backing, or clamps down on calories to an extreme.

    "People are so desperate to lose weight that it's really weight loss at any cost," says Madelyn Fernstrom, founding director of the UPMC University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center and author of The Real You Diet. And when that desperation sets in, says Fernstrom, "normal thinking goes out the window." Who cares if the forbidden-foods list is longer than War and Peace? Pounds are coming off. You're happy. But your body might not be.

    You can check the nutritional completeness and safety of 29 popular diets ranked by U.S. News, from Atkins to Jenny Craig to Weight Watchers, in a detailed profile crafted of each one. (The profiles also cover scientific evidence, typical meals, and much more.) And U.S. News's Best Diets for Healthy Eating rankings give each diet a "healthiness" score from 5 (best) to 1 (worst) for safety and nutrition, with safety getting double weight; while you can modify a diet to some degree to adjust for nutritional imbalances or deficiencies, mere tweaking won't make an unsafe diet safe. [Read more: What Makes a Healthy Diet?]

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    • The New You and Improved Diet

      My clients are often surprised when I ask them about all the areas of their lives unrelated to food, writes U.S. News blogger Keri Glassman. I ask about sleep, stress, how organized their fridge is, and when was the last time they got a massage among other things.

      This is because no matter how motivated you are, and no matter how great that grocery list is, if you do not "fix" and control all the non-food areas of your life, you won't be successful with dieting, your jeans won't fit better, and you will not be or feel any healthier. That sounds rough, huh? It doesn't have to be!

      My new book, The New You and Improved Diet: 8 Rules to Lose Weight and Change Your Life Forever is about eating—not NOT eating. The first rule is: Eat More, Not Less. Of course this eating should consist of you choosing healthful, delicious, whole, and unprocessed foods. But this is just one of the eight rules! None of the others are about eating!