'Marrying Up' Could Be the Best Diet for Women

Women who "marry up" to men with greater education tend to be leaner, stay leaner and become even thinner over time than women who "marry down" to men of lower educational levels, finds Stanley M. Garn, a professor of nutrition in the University of Michigan's School of Public Health. "The higher the husband's educational level," says the researcher who correlated weight and educational degrees of more than 1,000 husbands and wives, "the leaner the wife."

Garn, who published his findings in the current American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, speculates peer pressure plays a vital role in weight control: Women who marry up are more likely to be surrounded by lean women than those who marry down.

Although the nutritionist found the husbands' weight wasn't influenced by their wives' education, Jody Lander Spector, a dietitian who directs a weight-loss program at St. Vincent Medical Center, counsels several couples who obviously got fat together. "I blame it on getting too comfortable with each other,"she says.

Next on Garn's research agenda: To investigate whether second wives of highly educated men stay as thin as spouse No. 1.

Infant Sleep

To sleep-deprived parents of newborn babies, it's a promising bit of folklore: Feed them cereal at bedtime, and they'll sleep through the night.

Cleveland Clinic Foundation researchers tested this homespun advice by comparing the sleep habits of more than 100 infants fed bedtime cereal starting at five weeks and at four months of age. Parents kept track of their kids' fussiness, crying and sleep times. In the end, the Ohio researchers found no significant differences in sleep habits between the two groups.

They concluded what some parents have always suspected: kids sleep through the night when they're developmentally ready--regardless of their bedtime snack.

According to a spokeswoman, the Committee on Nutrition for the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends holding off on solid foods such as bedtime cereal for five or six months. "Introducing foods too early may decrease a baby's interest in nursing and increase an likelihood of allergies if there's a family history,"says Audrey Naylor, San Diego pediatrician affliated with the committee.

Still, the news for sleep-weary parents isn't all bad. The Ohio researchers discovered their subjects, however fussy, eventually let their parents get some shut-eye. By age 12 weeks, most of the babies slept six straight hours and, by age 20 weeks, eight hours at a stretch.

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