Friday, January 14, 2011

Interesting Stats Day

In a broader NYTimes story today -- based on this CDC report -- about various racial health disparities, a few factoids deserve special attention and a little discussion because (drumroll ... it's Interesting Stats Day).
  • Prescription overdoses now kill more Americans than overdoses of illegal drugs.  We might conclude that illegal drug users are just smarter than prescription drug users, but it's probably a function of all of those easy-to-get painkillers and the like, plus all those silly pharmaceutical pushing drugs on us.  A liberal will blame drug companies.  A conservative will blame the idiots who take the wrong dose.  As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in the radical moderate middle.  By the way, this is a flip on the old data, which used to find illegal drug overdoses caused more deaths than legal drug overdoses.  Interesting.
  • People in three very different states report the most healthy days (Utah, North Dakota, and Connecticut).  People in three very similar states report the most sick days (West Virginia, Kentucky, and my home state of Tennessee).  My first reaction to this is obesity, based only on what I see on my trips home.  Of the three "healthy" states, I see Utah and the Mormon effect, but the other two?  No idea.  But, the reporting of "healthy days" is correlated with income.  But ... and more important ... the states "with that have the highest mean healthy days have the lowest health inequality, and vice versa," according to the full report.  In other words, the state health systems do a good job of breaking down health inequality in access to care.
  • Binge drinking "is more common among the better-educated and more affluent, including college students. But poor people, and especially American Indians, drink much more heavily when on binges."  As a university professor, I can confidently support the first sentence.  Our students definitely binge drink.  They're amateurs, mind you, but they try hard, usually with cheap, crappy booze that no one else will drink, so it gets sold to college kids.  Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son. And I say "son" because men far outnumber women, according to the full report (20 percent of men, 10 percent of women).  Only 3.8 percent of those 68 years or older binge drink; that's heartening, I suppose, since we do not want to combine cheap liquor with Alzheimer's.
So that's my Interesting Stats Day.  At least until later, when I'll probably find something else to go on about instead of finishing a review of a textbook that's due -- rut roh -- today.

1 comment:

Amerloc said...

It's easy: Utah, NDak, and Conn all shovel snow a couple months a year. Or at least worry about having to do so...