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What's American About Americans?

Knight Pierce Hirst -- "Middle America" has been redefined.

The majority of middle-class Americans -- according to ABC News -- fit the following description. They are part of a 2 parent/2 children family with an income of $50,800-$122,800. They save $1,000-$4,000 yearly, with no trouble paying bills. They send their children to public schools and save $1,800-$6,100 yearly for their children's education. They own their own home or are planning to buy one soon and have 2 or more cars. The rate their quality of life as medium or high, are very satisfied with their job and are a manager or a professional. This is the new "Middle America".

According to the National Center for Health Statistics 2010 report, 61% of adult Americans drink alcohol; but only 5% are heavy drinkers. Twenty percent of adults smoke, 42.5% tried to quit in 2009 and 58.5% never smoked. Thirty percent exercise regularly and 60% get 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Then there's weight. Sixty percent of adults are overweight or obese. Men are more likely to be overweight -- 67.9% men and 53% women -- but the number of obese adults is about equal -- 25.7% men and 25% women. It seems Middle America's middle is getting bigger.

It also seems the stock market affects our health. Researchers at Duke University tallied the number of patients who had heart attacks among those who had come to the university hospital to be tested for heart disease - 965. That number was averaged over a 3-month period and compared to the Nasdaq index. When the stock market went down, heart attacks went up. This finding corresponded with earlier studies showing that heart attacks increased after earthquakes, Hurricane Katrina and World Cup soccer matches. That there are fewer heart attacks when the stock market is up gives new meaning to "healthy economy".

Even in an unhealthy economy meaningful conversations supposedly make us happy. A study published in Psychological Science found that people who have more substantive conversations are more likely to describe themselves as happy. The study eavesdropped on 79 college students -- 32 males and 47 females -- for 4 days. Regardless of personality or whether the students seemed happy on the outside, the happiest were those who spent 70% more time talking and had twice as many substantive conversations as the unhappiest students. The happiest students also had about one-third less small talk. Obviously, "happy talk" is more substantive than previously thought.

Knight Pierce Hirst takes a second look at what makes life interesting and it takes only second at http://knightwatch.typepad.com. Distributed by Content Crooner.

© 2010 Knight Pierce Hirst

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