In the 1973 Woody Allen film Sleeper, Allen's character wakes up in the future and is told in all seriousness that the key to a long and healthy life is drinking, smoking, and eating snack food. It's a memorable moment in the film because it's such a ridiculous idea, and everyone laughs. Or is it?
While it's hard to believe that the surgeon general will announce that tobacco is the path to clean living, new research is turning long-held health pronouncements on their heads. A new study of 500 Israeli elementary students published in the American Medical Association's Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that children who eat sugary cereals perform better in school because of their higher blood-sugar level. Earlier this year, a study presented at a American Heart Association conference found evidence that some food preservatives and flavorings may be partly responsible for the decline in heart disease over the past 30 years, because they contain chemical cousins of aspirin, which is known to reduce the risk of heart attacks. And after years and years of evidence, health officials in the United States are reluctantly conceding that alcohol has health benefits in moderation.