Quantum Sufficit

Just Enough



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Am Fam Physician. 1998 Jan 15;57(2):213-214.

▪ A midnight snack of leftover pot roast and cherry pie at 3 a.m. isn't likely to do much damage. Indulge too often while most people are nestled in their beds, though, and you may end up with night eating syndrome, according to a study mentioned in Psychology Today. People with the syndrome consume half or more of their daily calories after 7 p.m. and are often troubled by “morning anorexia” (not eating the next day) and insomnia.

▪ It's no news that boys and girls do math differently. So how do they do it? According to a study of 58 first-graders published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, the children seemed to use three main strategies: overt counting (on their fingers), covert counting (in their heads), and covert retrieval (answering from memory). Girls outperformed boys in overt counting; boys showed a higher success rate with covert counting. Boys were more likely to attempt covert retrieval, and although at first they were less able to use it correctly, repeated attempts eventually led to higher success.

▪ Just how family-friendly are large employers these days? According to a study of 1,050 large companies, 97 percent offer dependent care spending accounts enabling employees to set aside pretax money for child care. Forty percent of the companies help employees with resource and referral services for child care, and five percent have a subsidized on-site child care center. The study, cited in Business & Health, also reports that 75 percent of the companies help employees with legal fees associated with adoption.

▪ “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” may not be good material for a music video, but it could be a theme song for the genre. Music videos glamorize smoking and drinking, according to a content analysis study reported in the American Journal of Public Health. Music videos from five genres of music and four television networks were analyzed for portrayals of tobacco and alcohol use, as well as how these behaviors related to portrayals of sexuality. The results: Music Television (MTV) ran a higher percentage of videos portraying tobacco use, but the percentage of videos showing alcohol use was similar on all four networks. And, to top it all off, the use of alcohol was found to be associated positively with sexual themes on all the videos. Imagine that.

▪ For those who keep a running tally, the cost of maintaining the United States' nuclear weapons stockpile has just gone up again—but only by $500 million a year. According to Science & Government Report, even though the Department of Energy said last year that $4 billion a year would suffice, the stockpile program now needs $4.5 billion a year in order to keep, um, stockpiling.

▪ Cincinnati's overall satisfaction with HMOs is the highest reported in a CareData Reports survey cited in Health Market newsletter. It's 70 percent. Now the question is, is 70 percent a good grade?

▪ There's no doubt about it: America's a diverse place. According to Money and the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the non-Latino White population is shrinking while other racial groups are growing or at least remaining the same. Today white people make up 72 percent of the population, while in the year 2022 they will make up only 63 percent. The Latino population will grow from 11 percent to 17 percent, the African American population from 12 percent to 13 percent, and the Asian American population will grow from 4 percent to 6 percent. The percentage of American Indians will remain the same, making up 1 percent of the population.

▪ Don't despair. Our future's in the hands of smart, well-rounded kids. About 80 percent of children ages 8 to 17 think “it's cool to be smart,” according to a Roper Youth Report in American Demographics. Two-thirds of these children “look forward to going to school.” Among 13- to 17-year-olds, 70 percent expect to attend college. And 56 percent of kids participate in at least one school-related activity outside the classroom, including junior varsity or varsity sports (20 percent), band or other musical groups (17 percent), intramural or club sports (13 percent), and volunteer work, academic clubs, or drama/theatre groups (10 percent). There, now. Don't you feel silly worrying about the future?

▪ Cigarettes get taxed for two reasons: to raise money and to make people want to quit smoking. A study reported in the American Journal of Public Health looked at how effective state and federal cigarette taxes were in reducing cigarette consumption from 1955 to 1994. The results show that both state and federal taxes were effective in reducing overall cigarette use and that increases in taxes are associated with declines in use. However, the study concluded that because of inflation, increased health concerns and the declining percentage of smokers, large reductions in cigarette consumption would require large tax increases.

▪ What do American adults daydream about most often? According to a Roper Starch Worldwide survey reported in American Demographics, 54 percent of adults daydream about being rich, 43 percent about traveling the world, 39 percent about the future, 34 percent about being smart, and 32 percent about having a better job.

▪ Saying “I do” seems to slow the joint erosion caused by arthritis, according to a study in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Of 55 patients who had rheumatoid arthritis for at least two years, the 30 who wore gold bands had significantly less erosion of the metacarpopha-langeal joint of the left ring finger than of the same joint on the right hand. The ring wearers also had less erosion in the joints of their left little and middle fingers. In the remaining 25 patients who had not worn rings, there was no difference between the left and right ring-finger joints.

▪ Now you can treat chronic low back pain by slapping the patient on the back—slapping on a fentanyl patch. The patch lasts for 72 hours and delivers a continuous dose of fentanyl through the skin and into the blood. The 50 participants in a study of the patch had been in pain and on prescription pain medication for at least six months. Over half had lived with low back pain for three to seven years and all had had at least one back surgery. Nearly half of the study participants decided to stay on the patch after the month-long study was over, reports the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

▪ Impressive technology. But useful ... ? According to an American Society for Quality/Gallup survey, 43 percent of consumers who use personal computers find them extremely valuable. By contrast, only 22 percent of Internet users rated the Internet as being of high value.



Copyright © 1998 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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