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Elderly need healthy diets

Elderly adults can count on at least one thing to stay fashionable: eating healthfully. A new study adds to a body of research suggesting a healthy diet is the key to living longer, MSNBC reports.

Based on answers to a questionnaire, researchers divided about 2,500 adults ages 70 to 79 into six groups depending on what they ate and drank most of: healthy food -- primarily fruits and veggies, poultry, low-fat dairy and whole grains; high-fat dairy products like ice cream and cheese and less poultry and low-fat dairy; meat, fried foods and alcohol; refined grains; breakfast cereals; and sweets and desserts, with less emphasis on fruits, veggies and fish.

They followed up with the participants 10 years later and noted who died. Those in the "high-fat dairy" group were 40 percent more likely to die during the study period than those in the "healthy food" group, the researchers found; when compared to the "sweets and desserts" group, the increased likelihood of death was 37 percent.

However, the study isn't without caveats. Researchers only followed adults in two U.S. cities, so they can't be sure if the results would be similar in all older adults. They also only questioned participants about their diets once, so their eating habits could have changed over time. The results will be published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

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Ridding the world of malaria

Malaria could be eradicated globally, just like smallpox was in 1979, through a global pincer movement, squeezing it closer to the equator from north and south.

"It could take 50 or 60 years," says Richard Feachem, of the University of California-San Francisco, and author of "Shrinking the Malaria Map," one of a series of papers on prospects for eradication published in the Lancet. At a news conference in London in November, Feachem said that malaria has been eliminated in 100 countries. The challenge now is to eliminate the disease in the 99 countries where it remains.

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Sugary drinks found in schools

Soft drinks and other sugary beverages are often blamed for the big rise in childhood obesity, yet it's surprisingly easy for kids to buy sugar-sweetened drinks at school. That's true even for second-graders; almost half of elementary school students can buy drinks like sodas, sports drinks and high-fat milk, all of which the Institute of Medicine says contribute to the obesity epidemic.

The fact that elementary schools are more and more likely to have vending machines or a store where kids can buy unhealthy drinks is part of the problem; 14 percent of public elementary school students and 38 percent of private elementary school students can buy sugar-sweetened beverages at school, according to a new study published online in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. And the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that schools offer only unflavored 1 percent or nonfat milk for calorie savings. Chocolate and other flavored milks are recommended only if they are nonfat, writes U.S. News and World Report's Nancy Shute.

Parents who don't want their kids tanking up on Dr. Pepper or chocolate-flavored whole milk should first find out their schools' policies on drinks, says Lindsey Turner, a clinical health psychologist and senior research specialist at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois-Chicago, who led the study. Some schools don't allow any sugared drinks to be sold, while others are much more permissive.

Compiled from News wire sources

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