After holiday feasting, try snacking on some stats

December 26, 2006|By JEAN MARBELLA

Are you on schedule? You have only a few more days to fulfill your personal quota of TV watching for the year - 1,555 hours, according to a report released by the U.S. Census earlier this month. To put it another way, if on Jan. 1 of this year you turned your television on and watched it around the clock, you wouldn't have turned it off until March 6.

That's just one factoid gleaned from the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007, a compilation of 1,376 charts tallying how much Americans earn ($39,354, on average); how much beef we eat (62.9 pounds each) and beer we drink (21.6 gallons each) in a year; how much we pay for cell phone service ($49.98 a month, on average, in 2005, down from $80.90 in 1990); even how many have tried the Zone diet (1,062,000) or flown a kite in the past year (5,397,000).

Don't you love stats like this? There's something about their infinitesimal specificity and yet their ultimate uselessness that makes them kind of like potato chips - empty nutritionally, but hard to stop at just one.

So if, like me, you're just about overdosed on all the peace, love, joy and Mom's cooking of yesterday's holiday, here are some easily digested, fun if frivolous facts that I plucked from the abstract. Consider it my belated Christmas gift to you, sparing you from wading through charts like Table 811, "Farm Sector Output and Value Added: 1990 to 2004," and going straight to the juicy bits.

Let's start with a couple of seasonal stats - yes, the two big holiday activities have taken their toll.

Percentage of adults who are obese: 30.6.

Total credit card debt, 2004: $801 million. Projected for 2009: $962 million.

But at least you're spending more time at home, in the embrace of family and friends - that's got to be good for you, right? Well, not necessarily.

Number of people who went to the emergency room for injuries involving household cabinets, racks and shelves: 268,183.

Stairs or steps: 1,138,196.

Beds: 518,441.

Household containers and packaging: 223,260.

Drinking glasses: 82,517.

Televisions: 42,811.

Maybe it's best to leave the house sometimes. Here are the numbers of adults who in the past 12 months said they ...

Ate out: 104,113,000.

Had friends or relatives over: 80,860,000.

Attended at least one country music performance: 10,871,000.

A rock performance: 20,085,000.

Went to a zoo: 25,224,000

A museum: 27,135,000.

A bar or nightclub: 40,114,000.

A beach: 48,290,000.

If you think the world of games has gone totally PlayStation and Nintendo, think again.

Number of adults who have played a video game in the past 12 months: 25,495,000.

Who have played a board game: 38,124,000.

Who have played cards: 54,140,000.

And what good are stats without a little healthy intercity, -state and -country comparison?

Baltimore's rank in terms of residential property tax rate for largest city in each state (and District of Columbia): 8.

Houston: 1.

Honolulu: 51.

Maryland's rank for number of millionaires: 16. (There are 69,000).

California: 1.

Vermont: 51.

Maryland's rank for percentage of individuals below poverty level: 45.

Louisiana: 1.

Connecticut and New Hampshire: 50 (a tie).

Maryland's rank for personal income in 2005: 4. In 2000: 5.

Connecticut, 2005: 1. In 2000: 1.

Louisiana, 2005: 50. In 2000: 45.

Mississippi, 2005: 49. In 2000: 50.

Number of marriages per 1,000 population for Maryland in 2004: 6.9.

Nevada (highest): 62.5.

District of Columbia (lowest): 4.5.

National average: 7.8.

Number of divorces per 1,000 population for Maryland, 2004: 3.2.

Nevada (highest): 6.4.

District of Columbia (lowest): 1.9.

National average: 3.7.

Number of cellular phone subscriptions per 100 persons in the U.S.: 62.11.

Sweden: 108.47.

Cuba: 0.67.

Carbon dioxide emissions in million metric tons in the U.S. in 2004: 1,612.

China: 1,284.

Japan: 344.

Canada: 160.

United Kingdom: 158.

Average length of hospital stay in the U.S. in 2003: 6.5 days. In 1990: 9.1

Japan, 2003: 36.4. In 1990: 50.5.

Denmark, in 2003: 5.4. In 1990: 8.2.

Country with the highest percentage of people over 65 (among countries with at least 5 million population): Japan, 19.5 percent.

Lowest: Uganda, 2.2 percent.

U.S.: 12.4 percent.

Country with the highest percentage of children under 15: Uganda, 50.5 percent.

Lowest: Hong Kong, 13.8 percent.

U.S.: 20.6 percent.

jean.marbella@baltsun.com

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