Posts tagged with ‘health’

The News is Stressing Us Out
A new study suggests that following the news stresses Americans out.
The study, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health and National Public Radio, looks at stress in American lives and found that 25% of those polled said they experienced a “great deal” of stress in the previous month.
According to NPR, “[T]hese stressed-out people said one of the biggest contributors to their day-to-day stress was watching, reading or listening to the news.”
In an interview with NPR, Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a psychologist at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said one of the biggest stress drivers is sensationalist coverage of traumatic events, disturbing imagery used in such coverage and the endless looping of such imagery in newscasts.
You can read the study here and listen to an NPR segment on the study here.

The News is Stressing Us Out

A new study suggests that following the news stresses Americans out.

The study, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health and National Public Radio, looks at stress in American lives and found that 25% of those polled said they experienced a “great deal” of stress in the previous month.

According to NPR, “[T]hese stressed-out people said one of the biggest contributors to their day-to-day stress was watching, reading or listening to the news.”

In an interview with NPR, Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a psychologist at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said one of the biggest stress drivers is sensationalist coverage of traumatic events, disturbing imagery used in such coverage and the endless looping of such imagery in newscasts.

You can read the study here and listen to an NPR segment on the study here.

Sign of the Times
My brother Peter came across this magazine while stocking up for July 4th weekend. — Michael

Sign of the Times

My brother Peter came across this magazine while stocking up for July 4th weekend. — Michael

Yes, much of the Internet is free. But it takes time and energy to develop the skills and habits necessary to successfully derive value from today’s media. Knowing how to tell a troll from a serious thinker, spotting linkbait, understanding a meme, cross checking articles against each other, even posting a comment to disagree with something–these are skills. They might not feel like it, but they are. And they’re easier to acquire the higher your tax bracket.

Ryan Holiday, The New Digital Divide: Privilege, Misinformation and Outright B.S. in Modern Media, Betabeat.

Holiday writes of the extreme privilege often inherent in digital literacy and the fact that it’s expensive to be a core user of online media. 

If I work as a security guard or at the counter of a Wendy’s, our media environment is significantly more difficult to track. Not everyone has their Internet time subsidized by an employer who asks them to sit in front of a computer all day. In fact, many people have jobs that forbid them from doing just that, with bosses who will write them up if caught checking their phone. These people–we often refer to them (derisively) as “average Americans”–are removed from the iterative, lightning-fast online media cycle for hours at a time and often for the entire day.

Before you joke about how lucky they are, think about how that would change someone’s relationship with culture. It means they end up getting their news from Facebook or from the “most emailed” stories of the day (of dubious validity). With only so much time left at the end of the day, they go to the one or two places that can give them the gist. Their reality is shaped by the things that tend to trickle about and from the Internet

He raises the food/nutrition analogy to point out how dangerous the consequences of such a divide can be. American’s obesity epidemic, caused in large part by a culture of eating what’s cheap and convenient because of a lack of access and affordability, can and will replicate itself in unhealthy media consumption patterns. (Related: The Information Diet by Clay Johnson)

Culturally, a portion of the population will be stuffed with hormone-injected garbage (Huffington Post slideshows, Facebook linkbait and other Cheetos-like information) while the other portion lives in its own reality of tailor-made, high quality information that makes them increasingly wealthy and utterly detached. One side will be able to influence, direct and exploit the other side because one controls the media while the other is at its mercy.

Read the rest here.

What’s it Like to Be Dyslexic?

UK-based designer Sam Barclay is concluding a successful Kickstarter campaign to create a design and typography book that shows what it’s like to be dyslexic.

Via the Daily Mail.

According to Barclay, people with dyslexia and other reading difficulties are often capable of thinking in ways others aren’t and as a result are ‘capable of true greatness’, yet these people are often misunderstood and treated unfairly as a result.

‘Being dyslexic, I noticed that available help was always about making me read better,’ said Barclay.

Very little effort was made to help the people around me understand what it feels like.

The book continues a project Barklay created while at the University of Portsmouth that explores the “struggles a dyslexic person might have while reading.”

As Medical Daily explains, the typography book builds empathy with those who don’t — or can’t — understand how the dyslexic see the written world. “It’s near impossible, for instance, to look at a word in your native tongue and not read it, to just look at the symbols, estranged from their meaning. Once we learn to read, our brains forget what it’s like not to associate symbols with letters. It’s for this reason, Barclay says, that his book is so vital to uplifting and enlarging dyslexia to people worldwide.”

Images: Pages from I Wonder What It’s Like to Be Dyslexic, by Sam Barclay via Kickstarter. Select to embiggen.

Duct Tape Surfing

From the there’s-something-in-our-eyes department, via Pozible:

Duct Tape Surfing started when Ty said he could surf with me (Pascale) taped to his back.

I have been in a wheelchair for 18 years after a car accident left me a T4 paraplegic. The first time I saw the ocean I was mesmerized and just wanted to live by the water. My two sons have grown up surfing, and watching them has made me want to get in the waves with them. It wasn’t until Ty’s suggestion that I could feel what it’s like to be a surfer.

Since December we have been surfing a lot, using a backpack bought from K-Mart and a roll of duct tape; we even made the front page of the Sunday Mail!

Learn more about Pascale and her surfing adventures on Facebook.

Family Sues Cox Media for Using Photo of Their Son for “Retarded News” Segment
Via Salon:

Nashville couple Bernard and Pamela Holland didn’t even take the photograph. It’s a nine year-old image of their son Adam as a teenager, smiling broadly as he holds up a drawing he made in art class. It’s a photo that’s now generated an $18 million lawsuit.
The Hollands filed the suit against Cox Media, claiming “invasion of privacy, misappropriation of likeness, defamation and emotional distress” after the image of Adam, who was born with Down Syndrome, began appearing as a punchline on various Web sites. Most notably, Cox’s Florida radio station WHPT-FM’s Cowhead Show reportedly altered the photo of Adam to make it appear he was holding a sign touting its “Retarded News.”
The station’s director has apologized, sort of, by issuing an email that says, “The segment ‘Retarded News’ is designed to highlight odd stories that are seemingly always in the news. Stories such as botched bank robberies and failed crimes. These stories are NOT about disabled individuals.” I guess if you’re using the image of someone with Down Syndrome on your “Retarded News,” but not actually talking about people with Down Syndrome, he thinks it’s somehow okay.

Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon: Stop mocking Adam Holland.
Image: A nine-year-old photo of Adam Holland, via Salon

Family Sues Cox Media for Using Photo of Their Son for “Retarded News” Segment

Via Salon:

Nashville couple Bernard and Pamela Holland didn’t even take the photograph. It’s a nine year-old image of their son Adam as a teenager, smiling broadly as he holds up a drawing he made in art class. It’s a photo that’s now generated an $18 million lawsuit.

The Hollands filed the suit against Cox Media, claiming “invasion of privacy, misappropriation of likeness, defamation and emotional distress” after the image of Adam, who was born with Down Syndrome, began appearing as a punchline on various Web sites. Most notably, Cox’s Florida radio station WHPT-FM’s Cowhead Show reportedly altered the photo of Adam to make it appear he was holding a sign touting its “Retarded News.”

The station’s director has apologized, sort of, by issuing an email that says, “The segment ‘Retarded News’ is designed to highlight odd stories that are seemingly always in the news. Stories such as botched bank robberies and failed crimes. These stories are NOT about disabled individuals.” I guess if you’re using the image of someone with Down Syndrome on your “Retarded News,” but not actually talking about people with Down Syndrome, he thinks it’s somehow okay.

Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon: Stop mocking Adam Holland.

Image: A nine-year-old photo of Adam Holland, via Salon

Why shouldn’t the same high-level thinking like that used in technology and other industries be used to increase pleasure in the bedroom? Of all the places that you want a quality user experience. I can’t think of a better one, can you?…

…But in one most profound area of our life – sexual health and wellness – we have somehow eluded innovation.

Grant Bechthold, VP of product development at Standard Innovation, in a keynote address at the CES Digital Health Summit. Via The Register: Vibrator guru on pleasure tech.

The Register article outlines how Standard Innovation’s product development cycle is similar to processes in other fields: from 3D conceptual designs to prototypes to field testing to actual academic studies on the product’s usefulness. Because, as Bechthold says, “[A] dropped cellphone call seems small compared to a dropped orgasm.”

Somewhat Related: Washington, DC residents watch more porn than the rest of America.

The World Smokes 15 Billion Cigarettes a Day
If you laid out end-to-end all the cigarettes the average urban citizen in various countries smokes per year, how far would it stretch? Healthline takes a look and compares it to the height of buildings (select to embiggen).
More: if you took the 15 billion cigarettes humans smoke each day and laid them end-to-end, you could get to the moon and back more than three times.
If you look at the World Health Organization information (PDF) that this draws on you see relatively few smokers across central and eastern Africa as well as India (although five bidis are purchased per each cigarette). Also, China smokes one in three of the cigarettes consumed in the world.
Image: Detail, Cigarettes Smoked by Average City Resident of…, by Healthline. 
H/T: PSMag.

The World Smokes 15 Billion Cigarettes a Day

If you laid out end-to-end all the cigarettes the average urban citizen in various countries smokes per year, how far would it stretch? Healthline takes a look and compares it to the height of buildings (select to embiggen).

More: if you took the 15 billion cigarettes humans smoke each day and laid them end-to-end, you could get to the moon and back more than three times.

If you look at the World Health Organization information (PDF) that this draws on you see relatively few smokers across central and eastern Africa as well as India (although five bidis are purchased per each cigarette). Also, China smokes one in three of the cigarettes consumed in the world.

Image: Detail, Cigarettes Smoked by Average City Resident of…, by Healthline. 

H/T: PSMag.

publicradiointernational:

“Sloth Map” compares rates of inactivity in the population of different countries: Researchers surveyed 122 countries and ranked them by level of exercise, and the top three most “slothful” are somewhat surprising.
The medical journal The Lancet recently released a study that found that levels of physical activity roughly track patterns of development — people in higher income countries were the least active, with those in the UK and the US among the worst.
Researchers say physical inactivity is to blame for 1 out of 10 deaths globally, about the same rate as deaths caused by smoking.
(Image: “Sloth Map” from economist.com)

FJP: Sweet. This was sent to me with a note saying, “you should reblog this/look at it/since you’re battling sloth-hood yourself.” — Michael

publicradiointernational:

“Sloth Map” compares rates of inactivity in the population of different countries: Researchers surveyed 122 countries and ranked them by level of exercise, and the top three most “slothful” are somewhat surprising.

The medical journal The Lancet recently released a study that found that levels of physical activity roughly track patterns of development — people in higher income countries were the least active, with those in the UK and the US among the worst.

Researchers say physical inactivity is to blame for 1 out of 10 deaths globally, about the same rate as deaths caused by smoking.

(Image: “Sloth Map” from economist.com)

FJP: Sweet. This was sent to me with a note saying, “you should reblog this/look at it/since you’re battling sloth-hood yourself.” — Michael

Population and Biomass
Fascinating fun fact of the day: if the rest of the world was, how shall we say… as portly as US citizens, it would be the biomass equivalent of having an extra billion “average sized” people on the planet.
Via The Economist. Read through for details.

Population and Biomass

Fascinating fun fact of the day: if the rest of the world was, how shall we say… as portly as US citizens, it would be the biomass equivalent of having an extra billion “average sized” people on the planet.

Via The Economist. Read through for details.

The Common North American Belly
Yes, I’m hungry. No, I haven’t eaten today.
But I have been playing with FoodMood, an interactive visualization project that pulls data from Twitter about how people relate to the foods they mention while posting.
Via FoodMood:

Using geo-located tweets as a primary data source together with natural language processing techniques and public access data from WHO and CIA Factbook, we capture and analyze, in real time, the foods that people are tweeting about in their cities and how they feel about them…
…As a sentiment analysis tool, FoodMood develops a more informed global picture about food and emotion. As a datavisualization project, FoodMood shows the connections, patterns and relationships that exist between the variables — insights that are otherwise practically infeasible. Ultimately, FoodMood helps reveal a hidden layer of digital and social data that pushes the boundaries of awareness and understanding of our surrendings one step further.
The data that drives FoodMood is from Twitter. We scrape Twitter in real time and assign a sentiment rating to any tweet about food. So if someone said they just ate a cake and they love it the sentiment rating will be high. If they ate a snail and it made them feel weird (and they tweeted that) then the sentiment rating would be low. We only use English-language tweets on FoodMood.

Got that?
So, what we’re looking at above is a comparison of Canada, Mexico and the United States. Each has salad, eggs, pancakes, pizza, cake and sandwiches among their top 10 most mentioned foods, and each has the same mood about them.
Sticking within the top 10, Mexico and the United States share a love for chipotle and tacos. Strong choices and yes I’m getting hungry.
Of the three countries, Canada is the thinnest but least happy. The United States appears (at least for those tweeting away) fat and happy.
I’m off to lunch (tuna melt panini if you’re interested), but give the site a play. You can compare foods, moods, countries, look at data at a particular point in time, or over a period of time. — Michael
Image: Screenshot of FoodMood comparing food sentiment as measured via Twitter Posts in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Select image to embiggen.
H/T: Infosthetics

The Common North American Belly

Yes, I’m hungry. No, I haven’t eaten today.

But I have been playing with FoodMood, an interactive visualization project that pulls data from Twitter about how people relate to the foods they mention while posting.

Via FoodMood:

Using geo-located tweets as a primary data source together with natural language processing techniques and public access data from WHO and CIA Factbook, we capture and analyze, in real time, the foods that people are tweeting about in their cities and how they feel about them…

…As a sentiment analysis tool, FoodMood develops a more informed global picture about food and emotion. As a datavisualization project, FoodMood shows the connections, patterns and relationships that exist between the variables — insights that are otherwise practically infeasible. Ultimately, FoodMood helps reveal a hidden layer of digital and social data that pushes the boundaries of awareness and understanding of our surrendings one step further.

The data that drives FoodMood is from Twitter. We scrape Twitter in real time and assign a sentiment rating to any tweet about food. So if someone said they just ate a cake and they love it the sentiment rating will be high. If they ate a snail and it made them feel weird (and they tweeted that) then the sentiment rating would be low. We only use English-language tweets on FoodMood.

Got that?

So, what we’re looking at above is a comparison of Canada, Mexico and the United States. Each has salad, eggs, pancakes, pizza, cake and sandwiches among their top 10 most mentioned foods, and each has the same mood about them.

Sticking within the top 10, Mexico and the United States share a love for chipotle and tacos. Strong choices and yes I’m getting hungry.

Of the three countries, Canada is the thinnest but least happy. The United States appears (at least for those tweeting away) fat and happy.

I’m off to lunch (tuna melt panini if you’re interested), but give the site a play. You can compare foods, moods, countries, look at data at a particular point in time, or over a period of time. — Michael

Image: Screenshot of FoodMood comparing food sentiment as measured via Twitter Posts in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Select image to embiggen.

H/T: Infosthetics

The United States and Childhood Poverty: In the Developed World, Only Romania is Worse
Unicef released a new study (PDF) exploring childhood poverty in the world’s wealthiest countries.
What’s happening in this table is a look at what’s called “relative poverty,” defined as the percentage of children aged 0 to 17 “living in a household in which disposable income, when adjusted for family size and composition, is less than 50% of the national median income.”
Via the International Business Times:

The UNICEF report is far from the first to highlight the growing rate of childhood poverty within the U.S. The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that in 2010, the most recent statistics available, 15 million U.S. children were living in families with incomes below the federal poverty level of $22,050 a year for a family of four.
Although children only compose 24 percent of the population, the organization reports they comprise nearly 34 percent of all people living in poverty. The proportion of children in poverty has been on the rise. For instance, the percentage of children living in low-income families (both poor and near poor) increased from 40 percent to 44 percent between 2005 and 2010, including an 11 percent increase among low-income children and a 17 percent rise among those living below the federal poverty rate.

Filed Under: Unfortunate Chart of the Day.

The United States and Childhood Poverty: In the Developed World, Only Romania is Worse

Unicef released a new study (PDF) exploring childhood poverty in the world’s wealthiest countries.

What’s happening in this table is a look at what’s called “relative poverty,” defined as the percentage of children aged 0 to 17 “living in a household in which disposable income, when adjusted for family size and composition, is less than 50% of the national median income.”

Via the International Business Times:

The UNICEF report is far from the first to highlight the growing rate of childhood poverty within the U.S. The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that in 2010, the most recent statistics available, 15 million U.S. children were living in families with incomes below the federal poverty level of $22,050 a year for a family of four.

Although children only compose 24 percent of the population, the organization reports they comprise nearly 34 percent of all people living in poverty. The proportion of children in poverty has been on the rise. For instance, the percentage of children living in low-income families (both poor and near poor) increased from 40 percent to 44 percent between 2005 and 2010, including an 11 percent increase among low-income children and a 17 percent rise among those living below the federal poverty rate.

Filed Under: Unfortunate Chart of the Day.

Mapping Paid Maternity Leave
Via Think Progress:

Out of 178 nations, the U.S. is one of three that does not offer paid maternity leave benefits, let alone paid leave for fathers, which more than 50 of these nations offer. Here’s how the U.S. stacks up to 14 other countries:
In comparison, Canada and Norway offer generous benefits that can be shared between the father and mother, France offers about four months, and even Mexico and Pakistan are among the nations offer 12 weeks paid leave for mothers.
American women are offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which exempts companies with fewer than 50 paid employees, but in 2011, only 11 percent of private sector workers and 17 percent of public workers reported that they had access to paid maternity leave through their employer. And for first-time mothers, only about half can take paid leave when they give birth.

FJP: Puts things in perspective, don’t it?
Update: On Twitter, Sara Morrisson believes the graphic and ThinkProgress quote is misleading, as some US companies do offer paid maternity leave. She has a point. I should have included that what’s being referenced here is mandated paid maternity leave. As Working Mother recently reported, “A Families and Work Institute report found only 16 percent of the companies it surveyed offered fully paid maternity leave in 2008, down from 27 percent in 1998.” — Michael
Image: Mapping Paid Maternity Leave, via ThinkProgress.

Mapping Paid Maternity Leave

Via Think Progress:

Out of 178 nations, the U.S. is one of three that does not offer paid maternity leave benefits, let alone paid leave for fathers, which more than 50 of these nations offer. Here’s how the U.S. stacks up to 14 other countries:

In comparison, Canada and Norway offer generous benefits that can be shared between the father and mother, France offers about four months, and even Mexico and Pakistan are among the nations offer 12 weeks paid leave for mothers.

American women are offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which exempts companies with fewer than 50 paid employees, but in 2011, only 11 percent of private sector workers and 17 percent of public workers reported that they had access to paid maternity leave through their employer. And for first-time mothers, only about half can take paid leave when they give birth.

FJP: Puts things in perspective, don’t it?

Update: On Twitter, Sara Morrisson believes the graphic and ThinkProgress quote is misleading, as some US companies do offer paid maternity leave. She has a point. I should have included that what’s being referenced here is mandated paid maternity leave. As Working Mother recently reported, “A Families and Work Institute report found only 16 percent of the companies it surveyed offered fully paid maternity leave in 2008, down from 27 percent in 1998.” — Michael

Image: Mapping Paid Maternity Leave, via ThinkProgress.

US Life Expectancy by County, 1989 and 2009

Via the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation:

IHME analyzed new mortality data by age, sex, and county for the US from 1989 to 2009. Across US counties, life expectancy in 2009 ranged from 66.1 to 81.6 years for men and 73.5 to 86.0 years for women. From 1989 to 2009, life expectancy for men improved by 4.6 years on average but only by 2.7 years for women. And throughout the country, women were more likely than men to have no progress in life expectancy or to have their lifespans get shorter over time.

In 661 counties, life expectancy stopped dead or went backwards for women since 1999. By comparison, life expectancy for men stopped or reversed in 166 counties. This troubling trend is occurring in 84% of Oklahoma counties, 58% of Tennessee counties, and 33% of Georgia counties.

The gap between women living the longest lives and those living the shortest lives is growing, too. In Collier, Florida, women live 85.8 years on average. In McDowell, West Virginia, they live to be 74.1. That’s an 11.7-year gap. In 1989, the gap was 8.7 years. For men, the gap is larger – 15.5 years – but it has grown by less than a year since 1989. Men live the longest in Marin, California, at 81.6 years. They live the shortest lives on average in Quitman and Tunica, Mississippi, at 66.1.

The range of life expectancies is so broad that in some counties, such as Stearns, Minnesota, lifespans rival some of the places where people live the longest – Japan, Hong Kong, and France – while in other counties, life expectancies are lower than places that spend far less on health care – Egypt, Indonesia, and Colombia. Even within states, there are large disparities. Women in Fairfax, Virginia, have among the best life expectancies in the world at 84.1 years, while in Sussex, Virginia, they have among the worst at 75.9 years.

At the same time, the life expectancy gap between black Americans and white Americans is closing. In 1989, black men could expect to live to be 63.8 on average, while white men had an average lifespan of 72.5, a difference of 8.7 years. In 2009, black male life expectancy improved by nearly a decade to 71.2 years, and white male life expectancy improved at a slower rate to 76.7 years, a 5.5-year gap. The gap between black women and white women is even narrower: 3.6 years. Black women on average in 2009 had a life expectancy of 77.9 years, compared to 81.5 years for white women.

Images: Screenshots, Life expectancy by county and sex (US), 1989-2009. Top, 1989. Bottom, 2009. Via IHME.