Health Buzz: Energy Drinks and a New Round of Health Risks

If you want to be happier, keep your focus; 6 common myths and misconceptions about diabetes.

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New Report Warns of Energy-Drink Dangers

Supercaffeinated energy drinks like Red Bull, AMP, and Rockstar are understudied, overused, and hazardous to children and teens. That's the take-home point of a new report published today in Pediatrics warning that drinking too much of these products could cause stroke, seizure, or even sudden death. The risk posed by the amped-up drinks—which can contain up to five times the caffeine of a soda—is especially high for children with heart abnormalities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, sleeping issues, and eating disorders, say the University of Miami researchers, who reviewed 121 scientific studies, government reports, and media stories on energy drinks. Since they're marketed as nutritional supplements, energy drinks don't have to follow the caffeine limits imposed on soft drinks. Safe levels of energy drinks, which also contain the stimulants taurine and guarana, have not been established for children and teens, according to the report. "A lot of young people, especially teens and young adults, think they are drinking sports drinks," study coauthor Steven Lipshultz, chairman of the department of pediatrics at the University of Miami, told CNN. "So they drink them after practice. But instead of replacing electrolytes in their bodies, they are adding large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, which can rev up the body and the heart even more." The researchers urge pediatricians to ask patients whether they use energy drinks, and if so, to alert them to the danger.

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  • Want to Be Happier? Keep Your Focus

    Nearly half the time we're awake, our thoughts drift to topics unrelated to whatever we're doing, U.S. News reports. We think about a fight with our spouse when we're driving, or replay events from a friend's wild party while brushing our teeth in the morning. We text incessantly while watching TV, and phone mom during laundry-folding time. And while our minds wander—even when we're having pleasant daydreams—we're not very happy, according to a new study published in November in the journal Science. "How often peoples' minds wander is definitely a big predictor of who's happy and who's not happy," says study author Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University, because the more often they take themselves out of the present moment, the less happy they are.

    The study found that happiness falls when folks aren't focused on the task at hand, even an unenjoyable one, like doing errands. The researchers used a novel approach to get real-time snapshots of what the 2,250 study participants were thinking and how they felt throughout the day. They developed a free iPhone app that buzzed volunteers, whose average age was 34, several times a day asking them how they were feeling right before they were contacted, what they were doing and whether they were thinking about something other than what they were doing. Except during sex, participants recorded their minds wandering during every activity; most frequently, minds drifted off during personal grooming like taking a shower, shaving, and putting on makeup. [Read more: Want to Be Happier? Keep Your Focus.]

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    • 6 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Diabetes

      Nearly 24 million Americans—or 1 in 10 adults—have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which projects that by 2050, as many as 1 in 3 adults will have the disease. Diabetes is one of the major causes of heart disease, stroke, new cases of adult blindness, and leg and foot amputations not caused by injury, U.S. News reports. Those are facts.

      Yet there are many mistaken beliefs about diabetes. Sue McLaughlin, former president of healthcare and education at the American Diabetes Association, offered her opinion of what she says are the six most common myths and misconceptions about diabetes, based on an ADA survey of more than 2,000 Americans released in 2009.