Mixed Blessings: Weight Meets Gender, No Time for Gym, Etc.

Though our Gender Gap of the Week comes courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it doesn’t lend support to the often-expressed opinion that men are pigs. Or not much, anyway. An article in FoodReview, published by the USDA’s Economic Research Service, notes that women are more likely than men to make “accurate self-assessments of their weight.” Moreover, “men and women often make different mistakes in perceiving weight status.” In the data the study employed (dating from the mid-1990s), 61.6 percent of men and 48.8 percent of women were classified as being overweight or obese. In subjects’ self-assessments, though, 40.8 percent of men and 59.3 percent of women put themselves in those categories. “Women who are obese or overweight are more likely to correctly assess their weight status than men.” But among people who aren’t overweight/obese, women are much more likely than men to believe they are. “Only 8.5 percent of men who are healthy weight or underweight believe they are overweight. The share for women is 23.9 percent.” One obvious implication of these figures: While dieting tends to be more a female than a male preoccupation, the women who try to lose weight aren’t necessarily the ones who need to do so.

Who’s greedier—a pro athlete or a team owner?
Tough choice, you might say. In a poll by Sports Illustrated for Kids, just over half of the youngsters pinned a scarlet G on the players. At the same time, a somewhat larger proportion (59 percent) said pro athletes are overpaid. But we can surmise that many of the respondents wouldn’t mind being overpaid themselves, since 79 percent said pro athletes are generally good role models for kids. Elsewhere in the poll, when asked what they would do if they ran major-league baseball, a precocious 18 percent said they’d “break up the Yankees.”

If one Miss North Carolina is a Boon to any ad—as surely she is—then two Miss North Carolinas must be doubly welcome. An ad for a Charlotte-based chain of pizza restaurants puts this sound principle to work as it stresses that Brixx “brings people together.” The Carolinian target audience will recall that the state’s 2002 pageant gave way to a contretemps in which winner Rebekah Revels (right) resigned the title following the emergence of some topless photos, then tried to regain it through legal action. In the end, a federal judge’s ruling left the crown firmly in the grasp of Misty Clymer (left), the beauty contest’s original runner-up. Charlotte-based agency Boone/Oakley created the campaign.

I overthink, therefore I am. A University of Michigan professor finds an epidemic of overthinking—defined as “endless torrents of negative thoughts and emotions, often triggered by something as fleeting as a sarcastic remark from a friend or co-worker.” Women are more likely than men to be overthinkers (57 percent vs. 43 percent). The phenomenon is rife among people age 25-35 (73 percent), but relatively rare in those 65-75 (20 percent).

When Americans talk about a crisis in education, they’re not referring to physical education. But they could be. A report by the federal government’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development finds a nationwide sample of third graders getting just 25 minutes per week of “moderate to vigorous activity” in school. A majority of kids have physical-education classes once (30 percent) or twice (45 percent) per week. And only half that meagre time is devoted to vigorous or even moderate physical activity.

Fashion follows demographics. “By 2005, at least 40 percent of the designs and colors on children’s clothing will be tailored to appeal to blacks and Hispanics,” says a new Packaged Facts report. Since both of these cohorts skew young, simple population percentages understate their importance for marketers of kid-oriented wares.

Not every picture is worth a thousand words—or not a thousand interesting words, at least. But this ad for MacPhail Center for Music shows how a well-chosen visual can give new vitality to tired words. The expression “a musical bone in your body” is a cliché. By giving it literal expression in a series of clever visuals, though, this music school’s campaign makes it vivid and fresh. Gabriel deGrood Bendt of Minneapolis created the work.

Glad tidings! Chocolate is good for us. An article in this month’s Journal of the American Dietetic Association explains that cocoa contains flavonoids that “are associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.” It also contains antioxidants and oleic acid that protect the heart. So, will health-conscious Americans rush to the candy store and stock up? Somehow one doubts it. We’ve been so trained to regard health and self-indulgence as mutually antagonistic that the news lacks conviction, despite its scientific provenance. Ask yourself this: Wouldn’t you be more likely to believe a report that says brussells sprouts provide cardiovascular benefit?

And now for the Hair-Raising Statistic of the Week. A recent poll by CosmoGirl! magazine asked teen girls to say where they get most of their information about HIV/ AIDS. The number of respondents citing TV and movies (12.5 percent) exceeded the total of those who cited their parents (8.5 percent) or a doctor (3.9 percent). Somewhat more reassuring, a plurality (41.9 percent) get most of their info from teachers or school nurses. Another 19.8 percent pointed to magazines.