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BREAKING NEWS

Buzzed Kids Switching from Soda to Energy Drinks

Where are kids getting their caffeine fix these days? Not from soda, according to a new report — or at least not as much.

Children and adolescents seem to be switching to energy drinks and sweetened coffee drinks as their caffeinated beverages of choice. The finding comes out of a study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics studied the caffeine intake of children, teens and young adults, paying particular attention to the sources of caffeine enjoyed from 1999 to 2010. They found that while the percentage of young people consuming caffeine on a daily basis has held steady over the past decade at approximately 73 percent, a dwindling proportion is looking to soda for that buzz.
The numbers tell the story. In 1999, 62 percent of kids and young adults named soda their primary source of caffeine. This figure plummeted to 38 percent by 2010, a level that still makes soda the largest contributor to caffeine intake, but a significant slip nonetheless.
Lead study author Amy Branum of the CDC said the study was driven by a lack of understanding as to how much caffeine kids and adolescents regularly consume these days.
“We seem to hear about the potential dangers of energy drinks, but then it occurred to us we weren’t really sure how much young people were really taking in,” she said, adding that she was surprised to learn that little research had been done on the subject since caffeine-dense energy drinks stormed onto the scene.
What Branum and her team discovered was that these drinks, more or less nonexistent in 1999, accounted for 6 percent of young people’s caffeine intake in 2010. The proportion of caffeine that young people get from coffee, meanwhile, has more than doubled — from 10 percent in 1999 to 24 percent in 2010.
Why is this happening? Branum says this shift in preference may be a result of the growing perception of soda as being linked to obesity. But it could also be because sweetened coffee beverages and energy drinks are becoming more appealing to a younger palate. And while young people may not guzzle these beverages like they would soda, they may not have to in order to get a high dose of caffeine — some coffee and energy drinks have up to four times the caffeine of an equal amount of soda.
Bruce Goldberger, director of toxicology at the University of Florida, is not surprised that young people are consuming a greater proportion of energy drinks than before.
“Energy drink consumption by anyone should be done in moderation, especially in young people due to smaller body size,” said Goldberger, who was not involved in the study. “There are isolated reports demonstrating that even small quantities of energy drinks have resulted in serious adverse effects and sometimes fatal consequences.”
Diet and nutrition experts agreed that kids would do well to watch their intake of caffeine-laden drinks.
“If energy drink intake increases, caffeine could get up into toxic levels,” said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. “Some of these drinks can be significant sources of sugar and calories, too.”

The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing has swelled to $284 million.

The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing has swelled to $284 million.

The cash value of the prize is estimated at $162.7 million, according to the Powerball website.

Powerball is played in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Openly Gay Medalist ‘Cuddles’ with Putin

(SOCHI, Russia) — The first openly gay gold medalist at the Sochi Olympic games says she got “a cuddle” from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Dutch speedskater Ireen Wust told Dutch national broadcaster NOS, “I got a cuddle from him,” at a party held in her honor. “He congratulated me and asked if everything was OK in Russia and I congratulated him on (Russian speedskater) Olga Graf, of course, for her third place (in the 3,000 meters). He was happy to see me, but then he had to leave again. But I cuddled him.”

John van Vliet, a spokesman for the Netherlands’ Olympics Committee, said Putin gave Wust a quick hug.

“He was on the way out. He congratulated her, hugged her, and wished her the best,” van Vliet said.

Wust, who took gold at the 3,000 meter women’s speedskate on Sunday, is one of seven openly gay athletes competing at the games.

Putin’s embrace of Wust comes after months of international outrage over Russia’s gay propaganda law, which prohibits what it deems the promotion of homosexuality around minors. Gay rights advocates fear it could be used to persecute homosexuals in Russia, many of whom have complained about a deteriorating climate of hate towards gays in recent months.

Some feared that gay athletes or fans could be targeted at the Sochi Olympics. Those fears may have been quieted by Putin’s meeting with Wust.

Shia LaBeouf Wears Paper Bag on Film Festival Red Carpet

(BERLIN) — Shia LaBeouf must really believe he’s “not famous anymore.”

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In the midst of the public backlash against him for plagiarizing another artist’s work, the 27-year-old actor tweeted last month, “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE.” On Sunday night, he wore a paper bag over his head carrying that same message, as he walked the red carpet of his new film, Nymphomaniac: Part 1, at the Berlin Film Festival.

Photos of LaBeouf in all of his paper bag glory have been posted by Variety and other outlets. He was wearing a black tuxedo, too.

The paper bag stunt may not have been the strangest moment of LaBeouf’s day. Earlier, he left a press conference after he was asked about his sex scenes in the Lars Von Trier-directed movie. He replied, “When seagulls follow the trawler it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea,” then made his exit.

LaBeouf has exhibited unusual behavior since he released in December a short film, HowardCantour.com, which, it turned out, ripped off a graphic novella by artist Daniel Clowes. He apologized numerous times in odd fashion, including by hiring a plane to skywrite a mea culpa. He eventually claimed his apologies were part of a long piece of performance art for a project called #stopcreating.

Nymphomaniac: Part 1 opens in limited release March 21.

Sochi 2014 Winter Games – Day 4 Results

(NEW YORK) — Sochi 2014 Winter Games:

Medal Count

Norway – 7

United States – 5

Russia – 5

Netherlands – 4

Canada – 4

Women’s Super-Combined – Final

Gold: Maria Hoefl-Risech – Germany – 2:34.62

Silver: Nicole Hosp – Austria – 2:35.02

Bronze: Julia Mancuso – United States – 2:35.15

Short-Track Speedstaking – Men’s 1500m – Final

Gold: Charles Hamelin – Canada – 2:14.985

Silver: Han Tianyu – China – 2:15.055

Bronze: Hyun-Soo Ahn – Russia – 2:15.062

4th:  John Celski – United States – 2:15.624

Tax Tip: How We File Our Taxes Is Changing

(NEW YORK) — Tax preparation used to mean gathering all your receipts, documentation, tax forms and calculator — and then diving into the numbers. But that’s all changed in the past few years.

“Most people don’t do their returns themselves anymore. Sixty percent of us pay someone to have them do it. Another 30-35 percent of us use tax software. Very few do it on paper and pencil anymore,” says tax expert Kevin McCormally with Kiplinger’s.

He tells ABC News Radio it’s still important not to throw away anything that says “Important Tax Information” on the envelope. And, he says, it’s never too soon to begin.

“Get started early so you don’t make a mistake — you don’t want to rush. You don’t want to miss a piece of paper, you don’t want to miss a deduction. We know people miss millions and millions of dollars worth of deductions every year. They overpay their taxes. You don’t want to be one of those victims,” McCormally advises.

FDA to Consider If Aleve Can Drop Heart Warning from Its Label

(NEW YORK) — The Food and Drug Administration might soon give a common painkiller the right to drop a heart warning from its label — a decision that could give it a big advantage over its competitors.

Aleve is advertised as the drug you can take less of, but until now, it and all other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have come with warnings, saying they might hurt your heart.

Over the next two days, an FDA panel of experts will consider if Aleve should still carry that warning because the drug Naproxen, which is what Aleve really is, may not pose that risk.

If the panel says Aleve can lose the warning label and the FDA goes along, it could be a marketing boost worth billions of dollars.

Schumer wants chemical ban

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New York Senator Charles Schumer wants the FDA to issue a nationwide ban on a cancer-causing chemical used in bread products by some fast food chains.

The chemical is called Azodicarbonamide and is a rubbery product typically used in yoga mats and shoes.  Schumer, speaking outside a Manhattan McDonald’s yesterday, said Subway already bans the chemical and that he wants the sandwich shop’s competitors to get rid of it too.  The senator said you can never be too careful when it comes to carcinogens.

The chemical is already banned in Europe and Australia.

College football player is gay and proud

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Missouri star football player Michael Sam is openly gay and proud.

The Southeastern Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year made the statement on Sunday’s telecast of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”  Sam says he told his teammates and coaches in August of last year but waited to go public.  The defensive lineman had a conference-best eleven and a-half sacks and 19 tackles for loss this past season.

The NFL has released a statement saying it admires Sam’s honesty and courage.

Bust at Target

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Four Queens men are charged with using phony credit cards to buy thousands of dollars worth of iPods from two Target stores on Long Island.

Nassau County police say they busted the men yesterday afternoon when an alert employee at a Westbury Target tipped them off after recognizing the suspects as having made purchases before using fake credit cards.  Detectives say the men also hit a Valley Stream Target earlier in the day.

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