Health Buzz: FDA Cuts Ambien Dosages to Curb Drowsy Driving

Inside the life of a pro dancer: Hardships and sacrifices; Plus, food trends: What's in store for 2013

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Makers of Ambien and Other Sleeping Meds Required to Halve Dosages for Women

The makers of Ambien and other sleeping medications must lower their recommended dosages for women, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday. The concern is that after taking the pills at night, folks may continue feeling drowsy in the morning, making them a danger on that morning commute and in other activities that require alertness. The FDA has received 700 reports of "impaired ability and/or road traffic accidents," which are believed to be the effects of zolpidem, the active ingredient in these sleeping pills. The FDA's warning specifically addresses women, who are most at risk, and says recommended dosages should be cut from 10 mg to 5 mg in immediate-release pills, and from 12.5 mg to 6.25 mg in extended-release pills. In its safety announcement, the FDA reminded all doctors and patients: "To decrease the potential risk of impairment with all insomnia drugs, health care professionals should prescribe, and patients should take, the lowest dose capable of treating the patient's insomnia."

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  • Inside the Life of a Pro Dancer: Health Hardships and Sacrifices

    When she was 14 years old and a professional dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, Kathleen Rea checked in at 5'6" and 105 pounds—a weight required by her company. To comply, "I spent days and days starving myself," she says, "and then I would binge-eat, because I was so hungry this famished creature would overtake me."

    Rea danced with a total of 14 girls, and seven had eating disorders. She struggled with hers for 10 years, until reaching what she describes as rock-bottom. "I was dancing a 40-hour work week, and required to be almost deathly thin," she says. "I slept on the bathroom floor because I thought my bedroom was too luxurious for what I deserved, and I would also sleep with a knife, almost ready to cut the fat off my thighs." At that point, Rea was binging and purging up to eight times a day. She knew continuing in such a way would lead to death, so she decided to seek help.

    After entering therapy and gaining some weight, Rea's ballet company told her she had embarrassed the entire nation of Canada by looking "too fat" on stage. She was soon fired. As she adjusted to a new way of life, she knew she wanted to continue dancing in some way, so she began participating in improvisation workshops. That's when she realized the healing power of expressive arts therapy, and that dance didn't require flawless technique or the perfect body—just "an honest presence of body and soul in movement." [Read more and Watch video: Inside the Life of a Pro Dancer: Health Hardships and Sacrifices]

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    • Food Trends: What's In Store for 2013

      "Trending" on social media channels has introduced us to hot topics in the world of celebs, fashion, fitness, tragedies, celebrations, and, of course, politics, writes U.S. News blogger Bonnie Taub-Dix. But there's no trend that captures my attention more than food trends, predicting what will be on our plates, in our refrigerators, and in our diets in the new year. Just as with other trends, the directions we take with food and eating behaviors change from year to year, but here's a glimpse of some of the expert food forecasts and how you can make the most of them:

      1. It's not just about what's on your plate, it's also about how it got there. Food trends expert Phil Lempert, aka "supermarket guru," says, "The most dramatic food changes are not what consumers are eating, rather who is doing the shopping and how consumers are eating."

      2. Man up! With men becoming more comfortable being home on the range, Lempert predicts supermarkets will increase their focus on men as they take on food shopping, meal planning, and cooking.

      3. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Cone Communications, shows us 52 percent of dads and 46 percent of moms are planning meals ahead of time. Thinking ahead about what to buy, create, and serve will not only save time, but it can also save money and calories—all of which are precious and should not be wasted.