TIME Exercise/Fitness

How Your Partner Can Help You Get Healthy

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

When a partner achieves a health goal, you're inspired to do the same

If you want your healthy New Year’s resolutions to stick, get your partner to kickstart their health, too. According to a new study, men and women are more likely to make a healthy change if their partner also does it.

Researchers looked at data from 3,722 couples who were either married or living together and who were part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. They found that when one partner made a healthy change—quit smoking, lost weight or exercised more, for example—their partner was more likely to make the same change.

Interestingly, when one partner was initially unhealthy but then became healthier, they had a strong influence on their less healthy partner. The researchers found that smokers or sedentary people whose partners got healthier were more likely to quit their bad habits. Overweight people were less likely to lose weight if their partner was a normal weight—unless their partner had once been overweight, too, and had worked to shed pounds while they were together. Having that history together was linked to a three times greater likelihood that the other partner would lose weight, too.

The researchers say the reason one healthy partner often influences their less healthy half is that the pair might make decisions to get healthy together. If partners are equally ready to make a change, prior data shows they are more likely to be successful than if one partner was more motivated. They may also be inspired by each other’s success and feel more inclined to reach a health goal that someone close to them already has.

The findings can be useful for public health interventions, researchers say. Losing weight with a coach or buddy can keep dieters on track, but the same strategy could be used to enhance other health-related programs, too.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Is the Scary Amount of Pizza Kids Are Really Eating

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Pizza is a ubiquitous part of the American diet, but a new study finds that it’s an even bigger contributor than we thought—so big, researchers say, that physicians should address pizza intake during doctors’ visits.

To figure out how much pizza kids and adolescents are eating, researchers looked at the diets of children ages 2 to 11 and teens aged 12 to 19 from 2003-2010. They found that pizza makes up about 20% of kids’ daily calories on days when they eat pizza—and despite the insistence of some politicians that pizza should be considered a vegetable for its ample tomato sauce, those calories aren’t coming from an onslaught of veggies.

Overall pizza consumption didn’t drop significantly throughout the study, and in 2009–2010, pizza was ranked as the second highest contributor to children’s solid fat intake from schools and fast-food restaurants. (Grain desserts, like cookies, donuts and pie, took the cake for the number-one solid fatty food category.)

Researchers found that many kids were getting their pizza in school cafeterias, though it may be a bit healthier than it used to be: the USDA’s nationwide nutrition standards for school lunch have improved the nutritional content of all lunch offerings, including pizza. But the researchers also note that a recent evaluation of the nutrients in pizza from two undisclosed top national chains showed a high increase in sodium for thin crust cheese pizzas between 2003 and 2010, so the nutritional standards may not always trickle down.

Compounding the problem, many fast food restaurants that sell regular, full-calorie pizza are often clustered near schools in low-income neighborhoods, the researchers say, so a child who gets hooked on pizza during school could get the heavier version on their own time.

Because of pizza’s popularity in lunchrooms across the country, more should be done to inform kids that it comes with a lot of empty nutrition, researchers say. Pizza should be targeted as a food that can contribute to obesity, and marketing targeted to kids should be more controlled, they write.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Should I Eat Red Meat?

Do our experts have a tender spot for loin?

Welcome to Should I Eat This?—our weekly poll of five experts who answer nutrition questions that gnaw at you.

 

Red-meat
Illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME

3/5 experts say yes.

You might be surprised to hear that red meat gets the green light from the majority of our experts. But before you start a “bacon” chant at your desk, you’ll want to hear their caveats. A license to freebase filet mignon this is not.

Red meat can be beef, veal, lamb and even pork—which tries to lump itself in with white meats like chicken, but since it comes from a mammal, most experts insist it’s red. Even within the family, though, red meats are not all equal. Processed meats like bacon, sausages, bologna are mostly terrible for you, and are distinct from simple slabs. “Studies find a strong association between processed meat and bad outcomes, but no such association for pure meat,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

Unadulterated lean red meat offer of high-quality protein, iron and a spectrum of B vitamins, says Penny M. Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition at Penn State University. That said, here in America, we’re in no danger of eating too little protein. “I think the key is moderation in lean beef intake,” Kris-Etherton says. Stick to dietary recommendations for lean protein: a couple ounces a day.

MORE: Ending the War On Fat

Other experts think meat currently has far too big a place in the diet and should be limited to 1 time per week or less, according to Julia Zumpano, an RD at Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute. The best cuts are the leanest ones, like loin, tenderloin, sirloin, filet or flank, she says.

Got a beef with beef? If you don’t already eat it, there’s no reason to add it, most of the experts say. “Protein deficiency in the U.S. is all but unknown in people who aren’t overtly sick,” Katz says, so vegetarians do just fine without it. Many do more than fine. In fact, the longest-lived Americans are pescetarians, says Dan Buettner, an author and researcher who studies the diets of the oldest people in the world in his forthcoming book The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People. Interestingly, members of the longest-lived populations do tend to eat red meat, but very sparingly, only about five servings a month, Buettner found. “Red meat was a celebratory food, or it was something that was more of a condiment, not the main feature of a meal,” he says. When it shows up on the plates of the healthiest people in the world, it’s far less than a two-ounce hunk.

MORE: What Red Meat Does To Your Gut Bacteria—And Heart

That’s how dietitian Karen Ehrens encourages people to think about meat: a flavorful flourish rather than a slab at the center of the plate. Eating less is better for our health and for the environment, a huge concern for some of the experts. If you choose to eat red meat, eat the best red meat you can, Ehrens says, because what’s good for livestock seems to be good for us, too. “Evidence continues to emerge in that what cattle eat impact the make-up of their meat and milk,” she says. Indeed, meat from grass-fed cows has lower saturated fat and more heart-healthy omega-3s.

So if you’re carnivorous, chow down—in moderation.

Read next: Should I Eat Whole-Wheat Pasta?

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TIME Dieting

DASH Diet Named Best Diet of the Year

Diet eschews gimmicks for straightforward healthy eating

The well-balanced DASH Diet was named the best overall diet for the fifth straight year by U.S. News & World Report. The DASH Diet focuses on a healthy mixture of whole grains and vegetables and is more focused on improving nutrition and heart health than losing weight (through strict adherence should still help dieters shed some pounds). While a lot of gimmicky diets have come and gone, the rules of the DASH diet are pretty intuitive: eat from the healthy food groups, avoid red meat and sweets, and cut back on salt.

For dieters more speciifcally focused on weight loss, U.S. News & World Report selected Weight Watchers as the best diet. IT was also picked as the easiest diet to follow. Meanwhile, the DASH diet received accolades as the best diet for people with diabetes and the best diet for healthy eating.

[U.S. News & World Report]

TIME Exercise/Fitness

Fitbit Launches Two New Fitness Trackers

Fitbit Surge Fitbit

Fitbit launches new tricked-out trackers with a watch and GPS

Fitbit officially launched the sale of two new fitness and activity trackers, Charge HR and Surge, on Tuesday. Both wrist trackers feature caller ID and sleep monitoring as well as visible stats and a watch on its display.

The company originally announced its new devices in October, but now they’re available for purchase, Fitbit said at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). “With Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge, features like heart rate tracking are made simpler by being continuous and automatic so the technology works no matter what you’re doing,” said James Park, CEO and cofounder of Fitbit, in a statement.

Charge HR Fitbit

Fitbit Charge HR costs $149.95 and uses continuous heart rate readings to provide wearers with day-long stats on their fitness. The Surge is $249.95 and takes tracking a step further with GPS, text message notifications and music control.

The fitness tracker market is crowded, and it’s estimated that 42 million wearable fitness and health devices shipped in 2014. That puts a lot of pressure on companies to come up with the latest and greatest technology to cram into a durable vehicle the size of a large bracelet. Early products were equivalent to glorified pedometers (which, by the way, you can buy for under $10). Now, they’re much fancier—though not necessarily much more accurate. A 2014 study from Iowa State University looked at the most popular trackers and found that they were an average of 10-15% off at calculating calorie burn from activity. The Fitbit series, however, was fairly close in accuracy to the kind scientists use in research.

The new Fitbit trackers can now be shipped everywhere in the U.S., and globally in the near future.

Read next: These Are the Most Ingenious Gadgets From CES 2015

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Nearly Half of Fast Food Has More Calories Than Ever

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Though fast food restaurants like to make us think they’re getting healthier, their menu’s nutrition hasn’t changed all that much in 18 years, found a pair of new studies published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Researchers from Tufts University analyzed almost two decades’ worth of data from top fast-food restaurants in the U.S. Specifically, they looked at the nutritional profiles of French fries, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, and sugar-sweetened cola.

There’s not much good news, but there is a shred: portion sizes have stopped ballooning, and calories in 56% of the items dropped over the years. Trans fat went down in French fries, too, since many chains have shifted away from frying them in partially hydrogenated fat.

But French fries seemed to be the only product reformulated during this time, the researchers said, and sodium and saturated fat remain too high in all products. Roughly 44% of foods actually had more calories over the years, and 33% had more sodium. As recently as 2013, a cheeseburger, French fries and cola accounted for 80% of a person’s daily calories and 139% of their recommended sodium.

Notably, the foods from the restaurants—which the study didn’t name—varied significantly among one another in calories, sodium and saturated fat. “It is unlikely that consumers are aware of the differences among chain restaurants,” the study authors write. “However, the implications of these data are striking.”

If you must indulge a fast food craving, be sure to check out the nutrition facts first. Even in our foodie-focused climate, they likely haven’t improved since your first drive-thru cheeseburger.

TIME Parenting

Kids Who Eat More Fast Food Get Worse Grades

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Study says the difference in grades may be as much as 20%.

Fast food is cheap, filling and of course, fast. That makes it a lifesaver for some parents. But it’s also incredibly unhealthy and now a new nationwide study suggests that eating a lot of it might be linked to kids doing badly in school.

Researchers at the Ohio State University (OSU) and University of Texas, Austin, found that the more frequently children reported eating fast food in fifth grade, the lower their improvement in reading, math, and science test scores by eighth grade.

The difference between the test scores of kids who didn’t eat any fast food and those who reported eating a lot was significant: 20%.

“There’s a lot of evidence that fast-food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don’t end there,” said Kelly Purtell, lead author of the study and assistant professor of human sciences at (OSU). “Relying too much on fast food could hurt how well children do in the classroom.”

While eating a lot of fast food is oftentimes a marker for poverty, and poorer students generally don’t do as well on standardized tests for a whole battery of reasons, these results held steady even after researchers took into account other factors, including how much the kids exercised, how much TV they watched, the other food they ate, their family’s socioeconomic status and the characteristics of their neighborhood and school.

“We went as far as we could to control for and take into account all the known factors that could be involved in how well children did on these tests,” Purtell said.

The results, which are published online in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort, a nationally representative study of 11,740 students who started school in the 1998-1999 school year.

The kids were tested in reading/literacy, mathematics and science in fifth as well as eighth grades, and also filled out a food consumption survey in fifth grade. Slightly more than half the kids reported eating fast food between one and three times in the previous week. Almost a third had had no fast food that week, while a full 10% reported having it every single day and 10% four to six times a week.

“We’re not saying that parents should never feed their children fast food, but these results suggest fast-food consumption should be limited as much as possible,” said Purtell, who added that while her study cannot prove that fast-food consumption caused the lower academic growth, she and her fellow authors are confident fast food explains some of the difference in achievement gains between fifth and eighth grade.

Previous studies have shown that fast food is low in such nutrients as iron that aid in cognitive development, which may explain some of the gap in learning. Moreover, diets high in fat and sugar, both of which fast food tends to have in abundance, have been shown to have a bad effect on immediate memory and learning processes.

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TIME Research

11 Remarkable Health Advances From 2014

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And what to look forward to in 2015

From groundbreaking new drugs to doctor-assisted suicide, 2o14 was full of historic moments that are bound to play on in a big way throughout 2015 and beyond.

1. 3D Mammography is proven to be effective
Multiple studies in 2014 showed 3-D mammography to be a highly accurate screening tool for detecting breast cancer with fewer false positive results. It’s not widely available yet, but the growing evidence suggests we’ll see more adoption in 2015. Hologic, one of two U.S. companies selling 3-D mammography machines, told TIME there’s growing interest, with at least one of their machines in all 50 states.

2. The number of uninsured Americans nears record low
Federal data released Dec. 18 revealed that the percentage of uninsured Americans neared historic lows in 2014 at 11.3%. As TIME reported, it appears certain to fall to record lows next year.

3. Brittany Maynard wins support for “death with dignity”
After she discovered she had terminal brain cancer, Maynard, 29, chose to end her own life in the company of her family and friends by taking prescribed barbiturates on Nov. 1. Maynard moved from California to Oregon for the state’s death with dignity law that allows doctors to prescribe lethal medications for the terminally ill. A video of Maynard explaining her choice went viral, and a recent poll showed most U.S. doctors now support death with dignity.

MORE: TIME’s Person of the Year: The Ebola Fighters

4. CVS stops selling cigarettes
In February, CVS announced it would stop sales of cigarettes and tobacco products in its 7,600 U.S. stores by Oct. 1. Tobacco products made up about 3% of the company’s annual revenue. Anti-smoking advocates were pleased by the move.

5. Way more calorie counts are coming
The FDA rolled out new rules in November that require chains—including restaurants, movie theaters, vending machines and amusement parts—with 20 or more locations to list their calories for all their food and drinks. Companies have a year to comply.

6. The FDA unveils new nutrition labels
In a similar move, the FDA revealed in February proposed changes to nutritional labels that will put greater emphasis on calories, added sugars and have more realistic serving sizes. Calories will be listed in bigger and bolder type, and may be listed on the front of food packaging.

MORE: 3D Mammograms Are Better For Dense Breasts

7. The Sunscreen Innovation Act becomes law
In December, President Obama signed into law the much-anticipated Sunscreen Innovation Act, which requires the FDA to quickly respond to pending sunscreen-ingredient applications that have been awaiting a response for over a decade. There’s a good chance that in summer 2015, we could have a batch of new, up-to-date sunscreens to try.

8. New drugs show promise for heart failure
Novartis is anticipating approval for its new heart failure drug, LCZ696, in the second half of 2015. The drug could replace the current treatment of care: ACE inhibitors. The company’s most recent human clinical trial was forced to end when it apparent LCZ696 saved more lives than standard of care.

9. PillPack offers a new kind of pharmacy
For people on multiple medications, remembering what to take and when can be a medical nightmare. That’s why pharmacist T.J. Parker launched PillPack in 2014. Instead of sending customers bottles, every two weeks the company sends a dispenser that has all the customers’ individual pills sorted and organized by day on a ticker tape sheet of tearable pouches. TIME named it one of the best inventions of 2014.

MORE: New Heart Drug Saves More Lives Than Standard of Care

10. A device literally filters Ebola from blood of a sick patient
One of the most novel treatments during the Ebola outbreak is a device that can suck the Ebola virus out of the blood. Developed by Aethlon Medical, the Hemopurifier is a specially developed cartridge that can be attached to a standard dialysis machine and uses proteins that bind to the Ebola viruses and pull them out of patients’ blood. It’s still experimental, but appears to have worked in at least one patient with Ebola in Germany.

11. The Ebola vaccine shows promise
In August, two vaccines to prevent the deadly Ebola virus went onto human clinical trials. The vaccines are being tested with the hope that it could be deemed effective, and safe enough to be distributed widely in West Africa, where the Ebola crisis rages on.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

7 Things You Should Know About Shrimp

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Why you should eat them for more than just taste

Shrimp cocktail is on practically every holiday menu, but many of my clients aren’t sure if they should avoid shrimp or dig in. If you’re a seafood eater and you enjoy these crustaceans, either chilled or in hot dishes, here are seven things you should know.

They’re low in calories

One medium shrimp provides about 7 calories, which means a dozen add up to less than 85 calories—roughly 15 less than a 3-ounce chicken breast (about the size of a deck of cards in thickness and width). One jumbo shrimp, the type often served in shrimp cocktail, contains about 14 calories, and a teaspoon of cocktail sauce provides 5, so three jumbo shrimp, each with a teaspoon of cocktail sauce as an appetizer, adds up to less than 60 calories, about 10 less than just one pig in a blanket, and 20 less than two mini empanadas or two mini quiche.

HEALTH.COM: 20 Most Filling Foods for Weight Loss

They’re protein-rich

In addition to their water content, shrimp are primarily made of protein. Three ounces of baked or broiled shrimp provides about 20 grams of protein, just a few grams less than that a 3-ounce chicken breast. Each jumbo shrimp provides about 3 grams, and contains very little fat and carbohydrate.

They provide key nutrients

Aside from protein, shrimp provide a pretty impressive array of nutrients. Four ounces steamed contains over 100% of the Daily Value for selenium, over 75% for vitamin B12, over 50% for phosphorous, and over 30% for choline, copper, and iodine. And while we don’t typically think of animal proteins as sources of antioxidants, shrimp contain two types. In addition to being a mineral that plays a role in immunity and thyroid function, selenium is an important antioxidant that helps fight damaging particles called free radicals, which damage cell membranes and DNA, leading to premature aging and disease. Another antioxidant, called astaxanthin, which provides the primary color pigment in shrimp, has been shown to help reduce inflammation, a known trigger of aging and disease.

HEALTH.COM: 14 Foods That Fight Inflammation

They’re a common allergen

As a member of the shellfish family, shrimp are among the top allergens, which in addition to shellfish include milk, eggs, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy. Exposure to shrimp by those who are allergic to shellfish can cause a severe reaction, including life threatening anaphalyaxis. More mild reactions may include a stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy skin, hives, tingling in the mouth, abdominal pain, and nausea. A food allergy can develop at any age. If you think you may be allergic to shrimp, or any other food, see an allergist for testing right away.

Yes, they’re high in cholesterol, but…

The current guidelines from both the USDA and American Heart Association state that dietary cholesterol intake should be limited to no more than 300 mg per day, and three ounces of shrimp provides about half that amount. There are two kinds of cholesterol. The first is called dietary cholesterol, which is the cholesterol found in foods. Only foods from animals contain cholesterol, because the animals’ bodies produced it. The second kind of cholesterol is blood or serum cholesterol: this is the cholesterol inside of your body. Blood cholesterol is produced by your liver and released into your bloodstream.

If you eat animal-based foods, the cholesterol you absorb can also contribute to blood cholesterol. However, the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol has been an issue of debate. Research shows that high intakes of saturated fat and man-made trans fat have the greatest impact on blood cholesterol. Shrimp is very low in saturated fat and doesn’t contain trans fat—unless it’s been fried or cooked in a way that adds trans fat. But if you already have high cholesterol, follow the advice of your doctor about dietary cholesterol. And for more on how to eat seafood healthfully, check out my previous post on 5 Healthy Cooking Tips for Fish.

HEALTH.COM: 22 Worst Foods for Trans Fat

Shrimp fraud is common

A recent report from Oceana found that 30% of 143 shrimp products tested from 111 nationwide vendors were misrepresented. For example, farmed shrimp was sold as wild or Gulf. This means you may be unknowingly eating shrimp produced in a farm that uses antibiotics, fungicides, and other harmful chemicals. Unfortunately there isn’t much you as a consumer can do about this, but for more info about choosing shrimp that is properly labeled, checkout out this handy resource from Seafood Watch.

Even wild shrimp may contain contaminants

A recent Arizona State University study analyzed 27 samples of seafood, including shrimp, from 11 countries. Researchers found detectable amounts of five different antibiotics, including in wild shrimp. This is a critical finding, since the use of antibiotics in food production has contributed to a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, a major public health concern.

Bottom line: nutritionally speaking, shrimp is a bit of mixed bag, and Americans eat more shrimp than any other seafood item. If you’re one of them the best advice is to know the pros and cons, enjoy shrimp in moderation, and do your best to shop for, prepare, and order the healthiest options. For more info check out 5 Rules for Buying and Storing Seafood.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Crazy Things That Happen to Food Before You Buy It

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Connect with Cynthia on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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