Rehabilitated Nutrient, The Investor Class, Etc.

Come back, carbs: All is forgiven! A new study by InsightExpress weighs in with data indicating that consumers’ hate affair with carbohydrates has abated. The polling found that “more than half of all consumers who have tried a low-carb diet have, in fact, given it up.” Fewer than 10 percent are currently on a low-carb regimen. Most tellingly, carbs didn’t rate especially high on the poll’s list of “nutritional traits considered important when purchasing food products.” Thirty percent of respondents put total carbohydrates in that class, leaving this factor outranked by total calories (40 percent), total fat (37 percent), calories from fat (32 percent), saturated fat (32 percent) and cholesterol (31 percent).

Does hard experience leave old folks sadder but wiser? So says the conventional wisdom. But an odd couple of numbers in a new Washington Post survey gives reason to wonder whether it’s true. One question in the poll asked adults whether they and their families are financially better off, worse off or the same now vs. a year ago. Respondents in the 61-and-older bracket were the least likely to say they’re better off: 15 percent said so, vs. 25 percent of the 45-60s, 31 percent of the 31-44s and 30 percent of the 18-30s. So, are the 61-and-ups also the least upbeat about the direction of the economy? As it turns out, the reverse is true. When the survey asked people whether they think the economy is getting better, getting worse or staying the same, the “getting better” vote was noticeably higher for the 61-plus cohort (40 percent) than for the 45-60s (35 percent), the 31-44s (34 percent) and the 18-30s (33 percent). In the survey’s other demographic breakdowns (including education, race, sex and political affiliation), there was a close correlation between people’s financial experience in the past year and their future economic outlook. Instead of being sadder but wiser, perhaps the older respondents have become more resilient—or, at least, less pessimistic.

Maybe they should change the name to “bachelorette’s degree.” Within living memory, a woman with a college degree was an oddity. Now, women outnumber men on graduation day. A new report by the Census Bureau documents the growing female skew of the nation’s college-educated population. Among all Americans age 25 and older, men are still more likely than women to have a bachelor’s degree or better (28.9 percent vs. 25.7 percent). But among those age 25-29, women are more likely than men to have a bachelor’s degree or better (30.9 percent vs. 26.0 percent). Similarly, women in the 25-29 bracket are more likely than their male peers to be in the “some college or more” category (61.1 percent of women, 53.8 percent of men). If these trends persist, it will be interesting to see how they affect the marriage market.

If teen girls dislike like the way teen boys smell, it’s not because the lads aren’t trying. The NPD Group says 82 percent of boys age 13-17 wear fragrance. Among those who do so, the chief factor in picking a scent (cited by 52 percent) is that girls will like it. Fewer buy a particular fragrance because it’s suitable for all occasions (44 percent) or because its smell is masculine (43 percent), clean (33 percent) or fresh (31 percent).

Campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, investors are not strictly a plutocratic bunch. A Zogby poll of people who have “some form of investment portfolio” found a majority of them have yearly income of less than $75,000. Twenty-eight percent of investors earn $50,000-75,000, 19 percent make between $35,000 and $50,000, and 7 percent have income under $35,000. Blurring the divide between labor and capital, 21 percent are union members. Fourteen percent of investors said they’ve lost a job due to downsizing; 8 percent said they’ve lost one to outsourcing. About three in five classified themselves as members of “the investor class.” While they wouldn’t mind getting rich, many investors have more modest ambitions. Asked how they’d define financial success, 75 percent cited eliminating their credit-card debt. Just 12 percent said it means being able to buy a bigger home. A generous 32 percent defined success as the ability to make a large contribution to charity.

Americans aren’t overly cautious about what they eat, as a trip to the supermarket snack-food aisle will attest. Nonetheless, they remain wary of genetically modified (GM) food. In a new Harris Poll, 14 percent said it’s “very likely” that foods based on GM crops “will be poisonous or cause diseases in people who eat them,” with another 26 percent saying this is somewhat likely. That represents a modest decline in anti-GM-food sentiment since 2000, when 45 percent of respondents thought this unhappy outcome was somewhat or very likely. At the same time, there has been an uptick in the number of people who think GM foods will boost agricultural production (to 71 percent from 66 percent). As you can see from the chart below, though, a plurality of respondents persist in believing the risks of GM crops outweigh the benefits. The poll’s oddest finding is that Americans have become less rather than more informed about GM foods over the years. In the 2000 Harris Poll, a majority of respondents claimed to have read, seen or heard either “a lot” (15 percent) or “some” (42 percent) about GM foods, vs. 28 percent who’d heard “not much” and 14 percent who’d heard “nothing at all.” In the new poll, fewer than half said they’d heard a lot (12 percent) or some (35 percent); a majority said they’d heard not much (30 percent) or nothing at all (22 percent). At this rate, it’ll take just another 20 years for people to become entirely unaware that GM foods exist—which might be the best hope for the companies that market them.