Health Buzz: Many Youth Smokers Use Flavored Tobacco

For a better bond, learn how to fight right; Plus, has fast food become healthier?


CDC: Flavored Cigarettes and Flavored Little Cigars Are Not Uncommon Among Youth Smokers

More than 40 percent of U.S. high school and middle school students who smoke report using flavored cigarettes and flavored little cigars, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The report, which pulled from the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey, was the first that examined how many young people are smoking these products, whose flavors help to mask the harsh taste of tobacco. However, those fun fruit flavors don't mask the fact that these products are dangerous for those who smoke them. "Flavored or not, cigars cause cancer, heart disease, lung disease and many other health problems," states Tom Frieden, CDC Director, in a press release. "Flavored little cigars appeal to youth and the use of these tobacco products may lead to disfigurement, disability and premature death."

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  • For a Better Bond, Learn How to Fight Right

    Remember what they used to say in Little League and the like? It's not whether you win or lose but ... you know the rest. When it comes to your romantic relationship, put on your imaginary T-ball helmet and follow the same mantra.

    As two distinct people enmeshed in each other's lives and space, conflict is unavoidable. But guess what? That's OK. Better yet, when handled well, it can even bolster your union.

    "Conflict is the price we pay for a deeper level of intimacy," says Les Parrott, a Seattle psychologist who, with his wife, Leslie Parrott, authored the recent book, "The Good Fight: How Conflict Can Bring You Closer." (That they have the same first name – his is officially "Leslie," too – and a last name that seems to underscore the point is not a marketing tactic.)

    Their latest book outlines the principles of a successful fight with an acronym about what's at its "core." The mnemonic stands for: cooperation; taking ownership of one's part in the issue; respect; and empathy. The last point, empathy, requires putting aside your own agenda to consider your partner's point of view, explains Leslie Parrott, a marriage and family therapist. It's "so immensely powerful that about 90 percent of the time, that's all that's needed to resolve the conflict," she says. [Read more: For a Better Bond, Learn How to Fight Right]

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    • Has Fast Food Become Healthier?

      Although the words "fast food" and "dietitian" seem contradictory, I do indulge in a fast-food meal several times a year, writes U.S. News blogger Toby Amidor. When I was growing up, I had the Burger King crown and McDonald's glass cup – to me, the childhood memories associated with these chains are undeniable. Nowadays, you can't go down most highways or through most towns without these in-your-face joints lining the streets. From burgers to Chinese food to Mexican fare, there's a multicultural adventure right in our backyards. In recent years, many chains have been called out for high fat and poor quality cuisine. Chains have been revamping their menus to provide more low-calorie choices. But can we go as far as to call fast food "healthy?"

      What's Fast Food? The term "fast food" was recognized by Merriam–Webster Dictionary in 1951. It's defined as "of, relating to or specializing in food that can be prepared and served quickly." In the 1930s, Howard Johnson franchised a second location to a colleague as a way to expand his operations during the Great Depression. Once everyone owned cars, the idea of drive-thru was a novel concept and allowed more folks to grab food on-the-go. Over the past 60 years, the fast-food industry's popularity has skyrocketed. According to National Restaurant Association forecasts, fast food restaurant sales are expected to total $188.1 billion in 2013. This is a 4.9 percent increase from 2012.

      Over the Years: Since the 1970s, portions have changed significantly throughout the industry. A study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reviewed data from three national surveys with more than 60,000 subjects. They found that between 1977 and 1996, portion sizes of fast-food favorites dramatically increased. The data revealed that hamburgers expanded 23 percent, a plate of Mexican fare increased by 27 percent, soft drinks by 52 percent and snacks (potato chips, pretzels or crackers) by 60 percent. These changes were due to increased demand and "value sizing" – getting a bigger bang for your buck. As fast-food portions expanded, America's waistline was doing the same. [Read more: Has Fast Food Become Healthier?]