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YOUR SWEET TOOTH MAY BE TRYING TO HELP YOU

Health consciousness in the '90s "may be going overboard," says David Warburton, a British psychopharmacologist.

Warburton, of Reading University in Reading, England, argues that giving in to your sweet tooth once in a while may actually be better for you than being too strict with yourself.His approach might be called one of "moderate hedonism," Warburton said, in contrast to the "too severe, restrictive approach to pleasure" many health experts seem to advocate.

Warburton believes in exercise and good eating habits. But moderate indulgence in chocolate or other sweet snacks can affect "the pleasure pathways of the brain," making you feel more content, Warburton said.

And that feeling is good for you, he continued: "A good mood lessens stress and helps strengthen the immune system. And research shows that people who are happy on a regular basis are healthier and live longer."

Trying to be completely medically correct, on the other hand, "produces a climate that encourages negative emotions and, ultimately, poorer health."

Warburton's ideas were reported in the March issue of New Choices magazine.