Weighing The Menfolk, Wireless Loyalty, Etc.

While women are the ones who most fret about their weight, a new study by researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates the obesity epidemic is increasingly a male problem. According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (where the researchers’ findings were published this month), the rate of obesity among women was essentially unchanged between 1999-2000 (33.4 percent) and 2003-2004 (33.2 percent). Over the same period, though, the incidence of obesity among men climbed from 27.5 percent to 31.1 percent. Evidently, men need to do more fretting of their own about the matter.

Are aging baby boomers counting on inheritances to sustain them in the style to which they’ve become accustomed? So one might suspect, given the generally lackluster job they’ve done of saving for what’s likely to be a long spell in retirement. However, a study by a research firm called Guideline finds boomers regarding inheritances (if any) as a mere “bonus” in the mix of their retirement funds. As the chart at lower left indicates, boomers expect an average of one-tenth of their retirement money to come from this source. Among those who said they expect to get an inheritance, the median amount they anticipate is around $100,000—not chicken feed, but also not a vast personal fortune when spread over a couple decades of life in retirement. It’s also noteworthy that few of the boomers regard their homes as a retirement nest egg, perhaps because they’ve a ways to go in paying off their mortgages.

Connoisseurs of anti-French sentiment will savor a batch of new polls that document Americans’ undiminished hostility toward “the hexagon.” In part, the findings reflect an awareness of French hostility to the U.S. A Quinnipiac University poll asked American adults to rate “how friendly or unfriendly” a number of nations are toward the U.S. On a scale of 0 (most unfriendly) to 100 (most friendly), France got an average score of 45, placing it well behind such varied countries as Britain (76), Canada (71), Israel (62) and Mexico (55). Even the United Nations fared better (51). Meanwhile, a Rasmussen Reports poll found just 18 percent of Americans view France as an ally in the war on terror, with nearly as many saying it’s an enemy. In a Gallup poll, Democrats and pro-Democratic “leaners” were more likely than Republicans and their leaners (64 percent vs. 45 percent) to say they have a favorable opinion of France. Even among the Democrats and their leaners, though, France’s favorable vote falls well short of the 81 percent recorded in early 2001.

Take me out to the ball game? Gallup polling fielded shortly before opening day found 47 percent of adults identifying themselves as baseball fans. Although unchanged from last year, the figure is down from the 55 percent posted at the beginning of this decade. There’s little variation by age group in the proportion of adults who call themselves fans, which would seem to rebut the notion that young folks have lost interest in the game. However, Gallup also notes that “older Americans are much more likely than younger Americans to name baseball as their favorite sport.” For that matter, even the graybeards say football is their favorite.

When the home team has its strikeout ace on the mound, some fans in a section of the ballpark display a “K” (borrowing traditional scorecard notation) to celebrate each call of “strike three.” But where do they get the letters? That’s the crux of a clever spot for the Seattle Mariners. Preparing for a night when power-pitcher Felix Hernandez takes the mound, Mariners fans are seen swiping the Ks from a movie marquee (take that, King Kong!), scissoring them off Kellogg’sesque cereal boxes, even swiping one from the city’s landmark Public Market sign—hence the motley collection of K’s on display in the stands. In a nod to another Seattle institution, the spot’s final frame shows the K missing from a Starbucks sign on the outfield wall. For those of you keeping score at home, Seattle’s Copacino + Fujikado gets credit for the spot.

Wireless-phone users are the loyal dogs of the consumer world, to judge from a recent study by The NPD Group. Based on February 2006 data from NPD’s Mobile Consumer Track service, “more than three-quarters of all mobile phone service subscribers reported that they would ‘definitely not’ or ‘probably not’ switch carriers when their contracts are up.” A mere 7 percent voiced a strong intention to switch. One gets quite a different picture of wireless users, though, from a Harris Interactive poll. This survey found that 66 percent of adult mobile-phone users comparison shop among service providers, “with more than two in five (43 percent) beginning to do so two months before their contract expires or less.” The wireless companies dangle promotional offers to keep their customers from feeling restless, but Harris found these efforts are often in vain: 85 percent of wireless subscribers who receive such correspondence said the offers don’t leave them feeling any more or any less satisfied with their service provider. And a prickly 9 percent said such offers leave them feeling less satisfied. Still, 30 percent of those who reported receiving such offers said they have responded to at least one of them.