Health Buzz: Portable Pools Pose Drowning Risk

How to stay on a diet to lose or maintain weight; 5 cheap alternatives to hiring a personal trainer.

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Report: Small, Inflatable Pools Carry Drowning Risk

Backyard kiddie pools are riskier than many parents realize, a new study suggests. Each year about 20 children drown in these small, portable pools, which are inexpensive, easy to assemble, and not held to any local safety standards. Between 2001 and 2009, 209 children drowned in as little as 2 inches of water, and nearly all were under age 5, according a study published Monday in Pediatrics. While in-ground pool owners must adhere to local safety rules, like having pool covers and four-wall fencing, few parents invest in fences around portable pools. And because kiddie pools are often small and shallow, parents may underestimate the risks. "Children can drown in very small amounts of water," study author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told HealthDay. "It only takes a couple of inches and a few minutes."

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  • How to Stay on a Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight

    A diet is only as good as your ability to stick to it. Research has found that most plans will help you lose weight, regardless of type—low-fat or low-carb, for example. What counts is whether you can stay on it long-term. And with restaurant meals, dinners with friends, and hot fudge sundaes to tempt you, adherence is an understandable challenge. Here are five tricks for making your diet stick:

    1. Gather the troops. You need support, be it from a friend, a group like Overeaters Anonymous, or even an online community. Research suggests those who go it alone are most likely to fall off the wagon. That's why some diet plans have a formal support component—Weight Watchers connects dieters via weekly meetings, while Jenny Craig members are assigned counselors for advice and encouragement. If you're not comfortable talking about your weight face-to-face, log online. By signing up for the free program PeerTrainer, for example, dieters can interact and track each others' weight-loss progress, pose questions, and swap diet and exercise tips. "It's important to have people who will pick you up when times are tough and cheer you on when you have successes," says registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet. Plus, she adds: "Healthy habits are contagious."

    2. Hold yourself accountable. A couple chips here and a few cookie-nibbles there may seem harmless, but mindless munching adds up. Record everything you eat and drink in a food diary. Most of us don't realize exactly how much we consume, so making conscious notes will put each meal, snack, or splurge into perspective. In a 2008 American Journal of Preventative Medicine study, dieters who kept food diaries for five months lost nearly twice as much weight as their non-journaling peers. Journaling can reveal the problematic cues, triggers, and habits that could be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts. You might notice tendencies to overeat on deadline-heavy days, for example, or discover that your morning frozen coffee packs an extra 400 calories a day. [Read more: How to Stay on a Diet to Lose or Maintain Weight.]

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    • 5 Cheap Alternatives to Hiring a Personal Trainer

      If you can't afford a personal trainer—or don't want one—there are a number of exercise and nutrition resources available on the Internet. For some, the convenience and social support of surfing for fitness guidance online can make it just as effective as working with a trainer in person, fitness blogger Chelsea Bush writes for U.S. News. Here's a guide for how to use (and not to use) today's top online fitness tools.

      1. Social Media. Benefits: Social networks like Facebook and Twitter make it easy to get quick fitness tips and news updates, and connect with peers who can offer support and accountability as you work toward your goals. "People tend to stay with a program if they feel part of a community, and social media is the perfect vehicle for establishing this," says New York-based trainer Robert Brace. You can "check in" at the gym on Foursquare, a smart phone app that posts your whereabouts to your Facebook and Twitter profiles. Or you can tweet pictures of the healthy salad you made for lunch via apps like Flickr and Twitpic. With devices like the Nike+ SportBand, many are logging their running time and distance and broadcasting these from their social media profiles.