EVERYBODY OUT OF THE HOT TUB! More than half of the 5 million hot tubs and spas in U.S. hotels, gyms and other locations open to inspection violate local or state health regulations, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded last week.

Inspectors found at least one problem with water chemistry, filtration, circulation or basic spa management on 57 percent of their 5,209 visits to sites in five states in the summer of 2002.

Eleven percent of inspections resulted in the immediate closure of spas.

Poor hot tub maintenance can create a perfect environment for the spread of the bacteria that cause skin rashes and respiratory infections.

"We suspect this is only the tip of the iceberg," said Mike Beach, a CDC epidemiologist and one of the researchers of the study. "A lot of these outbreaks occur and just never get reported."

Beach noted that much of the risk of getting sick in a spa could be eliminated via proper training of attendants.

WATCH WHAT YOU'RE EATING A study of California third- and fifth-graders found that, on average, children ate roughly 20 percent of their daily calories while watching TV.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, are the first to quantify how much TV-time munching is going on, according to lead author Donna M. Matheson, a research associate at Stanford University School of Medicine.

But Matheson said it's not known whether children would have been eating less if the TV were off, or whether those who most often combined TV and food face a greater risk of becoming overweight.

Overall, the children ate 17 to 18 percent of their weekday calories, and about a fourth of their weekend calories, while watching TV. They generally ate fewer vegetables and less fruit, but also less soda and fast food, when the TV was on.

The amount of food the children ate during TV time was not associated with their body mass index, or BMI, a measure of weight in relation to height.

If kids eat in front of the TV, Matheson said, parents can try providing healthy snacks such as fruit and vegetables.

HER CHOCOLATE FIX, EXPLAINED A novel study suggests the popular idea of "stress eating" has validity even after the stressor is removed: Women who got more stressed in response to loud noises ate twice as much high-fat snack food afterward as their peers who didn't wig out at the noise. The study, appearing in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, showed no difference in fat-snack preference for men, regardless of how they reacted to the stress.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports