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Come and Get It—Or Don't

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If longevity researchers are correct in saying that people who skip breakfast die sooner than those who don't, maybe we needn't worry about the Social Security trust fund after all. The chart below, reflecting a survey by The NPD Group, makes it clear that we're in the throes of a skipped-breakfast epidemic. The numbers for little kids are especially striking. Even when people do eat something in the morning, it's likely to be wolfed down on the run. Breakfast bars have been the fastest growing part of what's known as the "carried breakfast" category and are now included in 6 percent of such meals. Fruit is the most popular item in carried breakfasts, turning up in 24 percent of them. Cookies/brownies(6 percent) and bagels (5 percent) are other carried favorites. When people eat breakfast in a restaurant (often of the fast-food variety), they're most likely to consume breakfast sandwiches, doughnuts and soft drinks. Other popular out-of-home breakfast items include potatoes, bagels, eggs and pancakes.

When taken to a national scale, familiarity seems not to breed contempt. The chart here reflects polling conducted for the British Council in 17 countries around the world. As you might expect, people are more likely to consider themselves familiar with the U.S. than with the four other big-economy nations tested. The U.S. also outpaced the others when respondents were asked how they feel about the five countries. Nearly two-thirds said their view of the U.S. is "very favorable" (24 percent) or "mainly favorable (42 percent); just 3 percent had a "very unfavorable" view. In that part of the survey, Japan, the U.K. and France drew similarly favorable tallies, though none drew as high a "very favorable" tally as the U.S. Germany won fewer favorable votes, mainly because it elicited the highest "neither/nor" score of the five countries. Asked whether these countries have "world-beating" companies, 77 percent "strongly agreed" the U.S. does. Japan ran second, with 67 percent saying it has such companies.