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The Takeaway: Do Morning Snacks Ruin Weight Loss?; Aging Out Of Health Care

Reason For Snacking-Not Timing-Matters Most: It's 10 a.m. Breakfast was three hours ago. Lunch isn't for another two. But your stomach is growling. Time for a mid-morning snack? Sure!-if you want to undermine your diet, researchers say. A 1 2-month study of women dieters ages 50-75, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found those who avoided mid-morning snacks lost a greater percentage of their body weight than their snacking counterparts-11 percent on average, versus 7 percent.

But I'd like to write in defense of the mid-morning snack. Note that in this study, a snack is any food or beverage taken in between meals. A candy bar is the same thing as greek yogurt is the same thing as a latte, as far as the data is concerned. I don't doubt that certain unhealthy morning snacks could sabotage weight loss plans. But strategic morning snacking-something with enough calories to keep you going but not too many calories; something that won't cause a sugar spike and crash; something high in fiber and protein (like raw almonds or whole-wheat toast with avocado or a hard-boiled egg)-can be good for not only your morning mental performance and mood, but keep you from over-eating or making unhealthy food choices come lunch, as well. Studies have shown that when people are hungry (i.e., low on glucose), they're more likely to choose fatty or unhealthy foods.

See Also: Healthy 'Fast Food' Options >> 

Lead researcher  Anne McTiernan notes that her team's findings don't necessarily relate to the time of day of snacks, "but rather to the short interval between breakfast and lunch."

Mid-morning snacking therefore might be a reflection of recreational or mindless eating habits rather than eating to satisfy true hunger."

But if you're truly hungry mid-morning, by all means go for that snack-just make sure you choose your snack wisely. "Adding a snack might help people deal better with hunger and ultimately help them to make more sound choices at their next meal," McTiernan said. "Snacking may actually help with weight loss if not done too close to another meal, particularly if the snacks are healthy foods." 

Too Old For Health Care? Miracles of modern medicine have the ability to extend life in ways unimaginable a generation ago. But as health care costs continue to go up up up up up, medical ethicists are debating how old is 'too old' for life-saving procedures, the Chicago Tribune reports.

With senior citizens the fastest-growing age group in the country, they say, the only way to control the ballooning costs is to try to bring the entire population up to a life expectancy of 80 and stop using most expensive technologies and medicines to extend life beyond that, even if some people will die.

"Doctors can keep you alive until you are 105, but that may not be a particularly good aim of the health care system," said Daniel Callahan, co-founder of bioethics research institute The Hastings Center and a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. "We need to stop thinking of medicine as an all-out war against death, because death always wins."

What do you think-should there be an age-limit on certain life-saving procedures? And who the heck would get to decide that limit, or which procedures are off-bounds?

Tuesday Quick Hits: 

  • It could be old age-or it could be low B12. A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms like weakness, depression and poor memory that get misdiagnosed as simply ails of aging.
  • Lana Peters, memoirist and daughter of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin whose defection to the West during the Cold War embarrassed the ruling communists, has died at 85.

Photo: David Ward/Getty Images

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