Mixed Blessings

Inattentive Viewers, Forgetful Patients, Etc.

Next time you’re tempted to create a subtle commercial, keep in mind these findings of a BIGresearch poll on people’s simultaneous usage of different media. When watching TV, 24 percent of men and 29 percent of women “regularly” go online at the same time. Five percent of men and 7 percent of women regularly read magazines while viewing TV, and even more (8 percent of men, 10 percent of women) read the newspaper.

If parents want to be role models for their kids, they’d better not wait until the offspring become teens. That’s clear from a poll commissioned by the American Dietetic Association Foundation, in which kids were asked to cite the person they would “like to be most.” Among those age 8-12, 23 percent picked their mothers and 17 percent chose their fathers. Sports celebrities drew a mere 8 percent of their responses. Among kids age 13-17, though, the “mother” vote tumbled to 14 percent, while the “father” tally dropped to 11 percent—putting the latter a shade behind sports celebrities (12 percent).

Cutting through the foot-oriented clutter of competitors’ ads, a campaign for Vasque hiking shoes and boots shows internal organs instead. One ad features a heart-shaped map as it suggests high-altitude hiking is “in your blood.” In the ad shown above, the lungs help emphasize the point that the shoes are made of “breathable” material. Colle + McVoy of Minneapolis created the campaign.

“Who do you think spends more of their annual budget on unnecessary or wasteful items—the average family or the federal government?” Answering that query in a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, a landslide majority of respondents (73 percent) said the feds are more profligate. Eleven percent said the average family spends more rashly, while 12 percent pointed accusing fingers at “both.”

Can canine running shoes be far behind? The latest edition of Mintel’s Global New Products Database reports that the vogue in “sport”-themed food and drink has extended from man to man’s best friend. In the Netherlands, Vitakraft has introduced Beef-Stick Sport for dogs. Made of beef, lamb, vitamins and L-carnitine, the sport sticks “are said to give dogs energy for outdoor activities.” It’s a wonder the species managed to survive all these millennia without such a product, eh?

When asked how they manage their health, people typically say they follow the advice of their doctors. And they probably believe that’s what they’re doing. But this assumes they remember what their doctors tell them, and new research casts doubt on that supposition. As summarized on the HealthScout Web site, an article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reports that most patients “forget as much as 80 percent of what their doctor tells them as soon as they leave the clinic.” This problem is aggravated by people’s tendency to “forget or misinterpret medical information if it doesn’t agree with their personal theories about the illness.” And it doesn’t help that patients often feel stressed (hence, unreceptive to information) when seeing a doctor. While people often complain that doctors are uncommunicative, the more information a doctor provides, “the less the patient will remember.”

Those who feel males are a lower life form than females will see confirmation of this in a BuzzBack poll about teenagers’ eating habits. Responding to the question, “Do you have any desire to improve the way you are eating now?,” 78 percent of teen girls said they do. Far fewer boys—60 percent—could bring themselves to give what was obviously the “correct” answer to the question.

On the subject of secondhand smoke, anti-tobacco ads are usually content to browbeat smokers and cigarette companies. It’s striking, then, to see new spots in Florida’s “Truth” series (by Crispin Porter + Bogusky of Miami) that call on non-smokers to take the initiative in avoiding secondhand smoke. Using the style of old-fashioned instructional films, the commercials place the outline of a human form (identified as “your body here”) in proximity to smoke and then deliver the admonition, “Walk away.” That advice seems altogether sensible, and it will doubtless save many lungs from much smoke. One wonders, though, whether anti-tobacco hard-liners will look askance at a message that suggests people have free will where cigarettes are concerned. Isn’t that at odds with the orthodoxy that we’re all helpless victims of Big Tobacco?

While healthcare spending continues to rise, it’s not because patients linger in hospitals. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the average hospital stay in 2001 was 4.9 days, vs. 7.8 days in 1970. Only 16 percent of patients stayed longer than a week. People often remark on the speed with which mothers and babies are pushed out the hospital door, but the “most dramatic decrease” in length of hospital stays has been for the elderly—down to 5.8 days in 2001, vs. 12.6 days in 1970.

The anti-globalist creed asserts that Americans are a uniquely money-mad people. Its adherents fear that the global economy will be the medium by which Americans spread this infection to more-innocent folk. Judging by a RoperASW survey, though, Americans are not alone in their attachment to money. People around the world were asked whether they’d rather have more money or more time. In North America, money beat time by 56 percent to 34 percent. In Western Europe, money won by a larger margin (60 percent to 32 percent), and it was bigger still in Central/ Eastern Europe (69 percent money, 20 percent time). Money also beat time handily in Mideast/Africa (61 percent to 35 percent) and “developed Asia” (60 percent to 37 percent). Only in Latin America (51 percent time, 48 percent money) and “developing Asia” (49 percent time, 43 percent money) was there a preference for free time.