Sugary Drinks May Increase Risk Of Diabetes

LONDON (UPI) — One sugar-sweetened soft drink a day can increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22 percent, researchers in Britain say.

Dr. Dora Romaguera of Imperial College London and researchers from the InterAct consortium analyzed the consumption of juices, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks collected in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.

The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, found roughly one can of a sugary drink drunk per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22 percent.

This increase in risk fell slightly to 18 percent after accounting for total calorie intake and body-mass index suggesting the effect of sugar-sweetened soft drinks on diabetes is not purely linked to body weight, Romaguera said.

People who drank more artificially-sweetened soft drinks were also more likely to get type 2 diabetes, but this association appeared to be because participants with a higher BMI tend to drink more artificially sweetened drinks and are also more likely to develop diabetes, the study said.

However, drinking pure fruit juice or diluted juices, sometimes with additives was not associated with diabetes risk, the study said.

“The increase in risk of type 2 diabetes among sugar-sweetened soft drink consumers in Europe is similar to that found in studies in North America,” Romaguera said in a statement.

Gen X Not The Slackers Expected, They’re Burdened Like Their Parents

NEW YORK (UPI) — The MTV Generation, often derided as “slackers,” are affluent, stable and saddled with jobs, mortgages and families as their parents, a U.S. survey found.

A study from the MetLife Mature Market Institute reported 70 percent of Gen Xers — born between 1965 and 1976 — live with a spouse or partner. They have an average of 2.5 children and 82 percent own their own homes, although 17 percent said the value of their homes was less than the debt attached to them.

The Gen Xers grew up in the 1980s and 1990s listening to Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, and watching “MTV” and “The Cosby Show” on TV. They identify with the characters in the movies, “The Breakfast Club” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Forty-six percent were latch-key children whose parents both worked outside the home.

Forty-three percent said they remained in the same type of career throughout their working years and about 40 percent were with the same employer for 10 years or more, while 75 percent said they were working full or part-time. Most were part of a dual-earner household.

Now ages 36-47, Gen Xers are part of the so-called sandwich generation. Many care for both their children and their parents, and 10 percent are grandparents.

Just 19 percent earn less than $35,000 per year and 29 percent earn more than $100,000. Forty-three percent graduated from college and 50 percent said they were behind on their retirement savings.

The survey of 1,000 Gen Xers was conducted by GfK Custom Research North America on behalf of the MetLife Mature Market Institute from Nov. 29-Dec, 19, 2012. No margin of error was provided.

About Half Of U.S. Obese Children Deficient In Vitamin D

DALLAS (UPI) — Nearly half of U.S. children who are obese do not have sufficient levels of vitamin D, a U.S. pediatrician says.

Dr. Christy Turer of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, a pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, said risk of vitamin D deficiency was even higher for severely obese and minority children.

“One-in-2 children with severe obesity is vitamin D deficient, and only about 10 percent of severely obese African-American children are not deficient,” Turer said in a statement. “While we don’t know for sure what causes the deficiency, there are things parents can do to reduce their child’s risk.”

Left untreated, vitamin D deficiency can pose serious health risks that include rickets and osteomalacia, a condition that causes softening of the bones. The deficiency has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and severe asthma, Turer said.

Helpful behavioral changes include limiting television/computer and video game time to less than 2 hours a day, increasing physical activity to more than 2 hours a week and encouraging children to drink 2-3 cups of low-fat vitamin D-fortified milk per day.

While 600 international units of vitamin D per day is recommended for healthy children, obese children may need more, Turer said. Parents should talk to their pediatrician regarding the appropriate dose, Turer advised.

Survey: Gender Gap Wider In Top-Paying Jobs

CHICAGO (UPI) — The balance of genders among top professions leans heavily toward men but women are making strides forward, U.S. employment firm CareerBuilder said.

“While employers have made strides in equalizing compensation for both genders, historical gaps are still present in some organizations today,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder said in a statement.

“Also contributing to the disparity in income levels is a higher representation of men working in more lucrative occupations. Fortunately, we’re starting to see that balance out as women account for a larger percentage of the overall workforce and pursue employment in high-paying areas,” she said.

A CareerBuilder survey indicated that four of 15 top-paying jobs are dominated by women. Among oral and maxillofacial surgeons and among orthodontists, 57 percent are women. Among prosthodontists, 62 percent are women. And 66 percent of pharmacists are women, the survey indicated.

Among physicians and surgeons the gender disparity is modest with 45 percent women and 55 percent men. Among dentists, it is close with 49 percent women.

But in most top-tier jobs, men have most of the positions. Among chief executive officers, 83 percent are men, for example.

Men also comprise 97 percent of engineering managers, 77 percent of computer and information systems managers, 72 percent of natural science managers and 90 percent of air traffic controllers.

Men dominate the fields of petroleum engineers, marketing managers, airline pilots, lawyers and general managers’ positions.

Women dominate in the fields of registered nurse — 96 percent women — and psychiatry, 62 percent of psychiatrists are women.

The survey indicated women make up 57 percent of anesthesiologists, 58 percent of pediatricians, 66 percent of probation officers and 70 percent of translators and interpreters.

Claims adjusters, industrial-organizational psychologists, public relations specialist, curators, graphic designers, editors and mathematical technicians are all mostly women, as are bartenders, 59 percent of whom are women, the survey said.

Where is there balance? There is an even split among political scientists, advertising and promotions managers and school bus drivers.

There is only a small gender gap among arbitrators, mediators and conciliators, sociologists, computer operators, bakers, medical scientists, accountant and auditors, statisticians, retail sales persons, optometrists, art directors, post secondary teachers, and training and development managers, CareerBuilder said.

The survey, conducted in March by Harris Interactive, included interviews with 1,746 men and 1,475 women, CareerBuilder said.

Jobless Claims Down Sharply

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. Labor Department said first-time jobless benefits claims dropped by 16,000 to 339,000 in the week that ended last Saturday.

The department revised last week’s estimate from 352,000 to 355,000.

The four-week rolling average for the week fell by 4,500 to 357,500.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 13 were in California, with 24,303 additional claims, Texas  with 3,050 and Florida with 2,623.

The largest decreases for the week were in New York with a drop of 14,113, Michigan down by 5,998 and New Jersey with a decline of 4,204.

Mortgage Rates At Or Close To Record Lows

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. mortgage rates hit record lows or close to them in the latest week, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. said Thursday.

Rates slid for the fourth consecutive week with five-year adjustable rate mortgages and 15-year fixed rate loans both hitting record lows, Freddie Mac said.

Average interest rates for five-year ARM loans dropped to 2.58 percent from 2.6 percent with 0.5 point, Freddie Mac said. Average rates for 15-year fixed rate loans fell from 2.64 percent to 2.61 percent with 0.7 point.

Rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages slid from 3.41 percent to 3.4 percent with an average 0.8 point to 3.41 percent with an average of 0.7 point, Freddie Mac said.

One point is equal to 1 percent of the amount of the loan and is typically paid up front. It includes a corresponding discount on the loan’s long-term interest rates.

One-year adjustable rate mortgages using 10-year bonds as a benchmark averaged 2.62 percent with 0.3 point in the week, down from 2.63 percent in the previous week.

U.S. Economy Expanded 2.5 Percent In First Quarter

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. gross domestic product expanded in the first quarter but less than expected, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday.

The economy grew 2.5 percent January through March, shy of the 3 percent gain economists had predicted but a sizable jump from the 0.4 percent gain of the fourth quarter of 2012.

Economists had expected a pendulum swing forward in inventory buildup and a boost from the housing market.

The 2.5 percent gain is considered an advanced figure that could be revised as more information becomes available.

The bureau said positive contributions were broad in the first quarte, with gains in consumer spending, private inventory investment, exports, residential investment and non-residential fixed investment, which refers to commercial property.

The gains were offset by declines in federal, state and local government spending. There was also an increase in imports, which subtracts from the GDP.

The price index for the quarter, which reflects prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 1.1 percent after rising 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Prices excluding food an energy, the category known as core prices, rose 1.3 percent January through March after increasing 1.2 percent October through December.

Personal spending in the quarter rose 3.2 percent after a 1.8 percent gain in the previous quarter.

Spending on goods expected to last three years or more rose 8.1 percent. Spending on non-durable goods increased 1 percent.

Federal spending fell 8.4 percent in the quarter after dropping 14.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. National defense spending fell 11.5 percent after a 22.1 percent drop in the previous quarter.

Canadians To Obama: Put Up Or Shut Up On Keystone

Canadian officials are urging President Barack Obama to move to end delays holding up the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Canadian natural resource minister Joe Oliver said the President risks damaging relations between the two countries in not doing so.

As the Environmental Protection Agency continues to keep the State Department from approving the project, the Canadian official said that a rejection of the Keystone plan “would represent a serious reversal in our long-standing energy relationship.”

He also wants environmental objectors to know that Canada is going continue to develop and export its available resources regardless of what the U.S. decides.

“Make no mistake,” Oliver said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Canadian resource development and export, including from the oil sands, will continue, Keystone or no Keystone.”

He later went on, “Anyone who equates the rejection of Keystone XL with some kind of body blow to the oil sands is just plain wrong.”

Sex Offender Caught Showering In Stranger’s Home

HIGHLAND, Calif., (UPI) —  Police in California said they arrested a sex offender parolee who removed his ankle GPS tracker and was found taking a shower in a stranger’s home.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said Gary Bakken, 52, who was on parole for failing to register as a sex offender, removed his GPS ankle monitor and his whereabouts were unknown until a man discovered him inside his Highland home, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Investigators said Bakken walked into the unlocked home around 6:45 a.m. Saturday, arranged his belongings in a bedroom and took a shower before being discovered by the male resident.

The sheriff’s department said Bakken told deputies he thought the home belonged to a relative.

Bakken was arrested on suspicion of being a sex offender out of compliance with his parole and illegally entering a dwelling.