Health Buzz: Importance of a Positive Attitude and Other Health News

Solving obesity in America; making swimming safer for children.


A Positive Attitude Might Improve Your Health, Longevity

Women who are optimistic about life live longer and are healthier than those who are pessimistic, according to a new study presented last week at the American Psychosomatic Society's annual meeting. And women who tend to be more trusting of others live longer than those who are more cynical, according to the Boston Globe's report on the study. These new findings come from the Women's Health Initiative, a clinical trial of more than 97,000 healthy women ages 50 to 74 that is widely known for its research into hormone therapy. Optimistic women had a 14 percent lower risk of death from any cause after eight years than those who were more pessimistic. More cynical women had a 16 percent higher risk of dying than more trusting women. The study does not prove that attitudes affect health or cause illness, but the association is worth further research, according to the Globe .

This isn't the first time that research has linked having a positive attitude to longer life span. Happier people are less likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes, and pain from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. If the recession has you feeling down, consider these 5 ways to be happy during bad economic times.

If Diets Don't Work, What's the Solution to Obesity in America?

For most people, diets simply don't work. The latest evidence: a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examining diets with different proportions of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Not surprisingly, it made no difference what kind of diet people followed; if they reduced calories, they initially lost weight, Katherine Hobson reports. But after two years, average participants had regained weight, leaving them with a net loss of just 9 pounds—and on a path toward further regain. A similar study published in 2007 also found that dieters regained weight regardless of their regime. A small portion of dieters do manage to keep weight off; about 15 percent of participants in the NEJM study dropped at least 10 percent of their body weight.

Consider these 7 tips to shed pounds and these 9 lessons that may help end yo-yo dieting. Still, not all diets are worthless. These 4 distinct diet styles, including the Mediterranean diet, have long promoted better health.

Swimming Lessons Really Do Keep Kids Safer

Young children are less likely to drown if they've taken swimming lessons, according to researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. That's good news, since drowning is the leading cause of fatal injury in children ages 1 to 4, Nancy Shute reports. Formal swimming lessons for preschoolers reduce their risk of drowning by 88 percent, the researchers found. This is the first scientific look into whether early childhood swimming lessons reduce the risk of drowning, although mom listservs abound with questions on the value of swimming lessons vs. "drownproofing" classes. The results were reported in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

Swimming can be loads of fun for kids and adults alike. For the older set, here is how one 70-year-old man trained for a very long swim.

—January W. Payne

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