Here are several research studies that may help you to live a healthier life:"Eating junk food while pregnant may make your child a junk food addict"What a headline! Scary, but it does make sense that eating junk food during pregnancy could lead to having a child who has that desire. The research, published in The FASEB Journal, says that "pregnant mothers who consume junk food actually cause changes in the development of the opioid signaling pathway in the brains of their unborn children." The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia, suggests that the babies born to these women are less sensitive to opioids (the chemicals released when you eat foods high in sugar and fat). As a result, they need to eat more foods high in sugar and fat to get the same "feel good" response. According to the researchers, junk food engages the same body chemistry as opium, morphine or heroin. One thing to note -- the study was done using rats, not people.Snack less and be just as satisfiedAccording to researchers from Cornell University, you need to snack less than you think. Actually, less than half as much. The study was designed to determine if people given smaller portions of snack foods would feel hungrier or less satisfied 15 minutes after eating.The researchers tested two groups with different portion sizes. The larger portion-size group got 3.5 ounces of chocolate, 7 ounces of apple pie and 3 ounces of potato chips, for a total of 1,370 calories. The other group got 1/3 ounce, 1.5 ounces and 1/3 ounce of these foods, respectively, for a total of 195 calories.The results showed that those given larger portions consumed 77 percent more food, but they did not feel "stronger feelings of satiety than the group with the smaller portions."Make sure to portion out your snack foods in advance, and never bring the entire bag or container of any snack to your TV-viewing area or to your desk.Even a few minutes of exercise is worth itYes, it really can help to exercise for even a few minutes at a time as long as it adds up to at least 30 minutes per day, say researchers at Oregon State University. In fact, the researchers concluded that these short bouts can be just as beneficial as longer bouts of exercise from a trip to the gym. This is important because most people report lack of time as the most important reason they don't exercise. The study also looked at everyday activities such as raking leaves and found that they contribute to overall health. So don't think that if you didn't make it to the gym today you might as well not exercise -- every little bit counts.Can you teach yourself to have more willpower? It's possible, according to researchers at the Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center. Scientists have found that, with practice, you can "strengthen and improve your self-control -- and lose more weight."Practicing acts of self-control is linked to an increase in self-control and better weight loss outcomes. The idea is that you're "building a muscle." And like any muscle, the more you build it by practicing healthy behaviors (e.g., exercising, eating healthy foods, avoiding unhealthy, high-calorie foods), "the more you'll increase and strengthen your self-control 'muscle' and quite possibly lose more weight and improve your health," say the researchers. For more on willpower, see www.dietdetective.com/weekly-column/diet-detectives-guide-using-power-not-willpower.Gender bias in exercise? According to research conducted at the University of Missouri, women did not receive the same health benefit after aerobic exercise training as men. The researchers suggest that obese women with Type 2 diabetes might benefit from longer durations or higher intensities of exercise.Is cardio better than weight training for weight loss? According to research from Duke University that appeared in the Journal of Applied Physiology, cardio or aerobic exercise (e.g., walking, running and swimming) appears to be a more efficient and effective way to lose weight than strength training.The researchers randomly assigned participants to one of three exercise groups: "resistance training (three days per week of weight lifting, three sets per day, eight-12 repetitions per set), aerobic training (approximately 12 miles per week walking) or aerobic plus resistance training (three days a week, three sets per day, 8-12 repetitions per set for resistance training, plus approximately 12 miles per week of aerobic exercise)."The researchers found that the groups assigned to aerobic training and aerobic plus resistance training lost more weight than those who did resistance training only. You might be surprised to find that the resistance training group even gained weight. (Actually, this makes sense, since they were building muscle.)The combination exercise group required double the amount of time, but the results were mixed. "The regimen helped participants lose weight and fat mass, but did not significantly reduce body mass nor fat mass over aerobic training alone." However, this group did notice the "largest decrease in waist circumference, which may be attributed to the amount of time participants spent exercising." In other words, they were doing double the amount of exercise, and that's why they had the largest decrease.Fried foods may increase risk for prostate cancerAccording to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, eating fried foods such as french fries, fried chicken, fried fish and even doughnuts more than once per week may increase a man's risk for prostate cancer. According to the researchers, previous studies suggested that eating foods made with high-heat cooking methods, such as grilled meats, might increase the risk of prostate cancer, but this is the first to look at fried foods.Men who ate fried foods more than once a week had a 30 to 37 percent increased risk of prostate cancer. Researchers speculate that deep frying may trigger the formation of cancer-causing agents in food.Charles Platkin, Ph.D., is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com.