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					January 2010

Interim Director
   1   Niccolls Renovation Update
   1   Congratulations to Debbie Zambino
   1   FCS In the News
   2   The Idaho Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
   2   A Second Haberly Report

Food Safety
   3 Bisphenol A in the News Again
   4 Recommendations Regarding Ground-and-Formed Beef Jerky

Family Development
   5 New Study Reveals Declines in the Health of American Workforce

Nutrition Education
   7 Drinking 30 Ounces of Sugary Soda May Increase Your Blood Pressure
   8 Is the Acai Berry a Wonder Fruit?
   8 Why You Should Eat Slowly

Family Economics
   9 Americans Value Experiences More Than Acquiring Material Things
   9 Financial Capability in the United States
  12 Overdraft Fees Benefit Financial Institutions, Not Consumers
Greetings. On behalf of all of us in Family and
Consumer Sciences in Moscow, Boise, and Coeur
d’Alene, we wish you a joyful new year, with many
opportunities for personal and professional growth.
After a relatively white Christmas, it is a foggy and
rainy first week of January. The fog dampens the
sound, so that the campus is quieter than usual be-
tween semesters. It is a good week to sort and file
piles, clean out mystery drawers, and delete an-
cient e-mails. My grandmother used to say that
whatever you do at the beginning of the year will be
what you do the rest of year. A year of cleaning
may or may not be a good thing!

       Niccolls Renovation Update
As many of you know, we are in the process of
fund-raising for the remodeling of the Niccolls Build-
ing. We are still in what is called the “Quiet Phase,”                     Congratulations to Debbie Zambino
and I’ve been on the road meeting with potential
donors. But, there is much more exciting news to                         Each semester, FCS graduates one or two Mas-
report.                                                                  ter’s students. This semester Debbie Zambino
                                                                         successfully defended her thesis titled “The Travel-
Because of a substantial gift from Carmelita                             ing Trunk in Dress History Curriculum: A Critical
Spencer, we are able to move forward with the re-                        Science Approach.” The purpose of Debbie’s thesis
novation of the Foods Laboratory from a 1952 food                        was to demonstrate that an interdisciplinary, expe-
preparation kitchen into a quantity foods lab. The                       riential approach to teaching is effective and that
original kitchen was state-of-the-art in its time and                    one delivery method that works well is the “traveling
we have kept it updated to meet ADA accreditation                        trunk.” Extension has used kits of this type for dec-
requirements, but now we can train students using                        ades. Indeed, one of the people Debbie interviewed
the kinds of equipment they will use professionally.                     was Sandy McCurdy and one of the examples
A search committee consisting of two FCS profes-                         Debbie used was the Germ City curriculum.
sors, a CALS Development Coordinator, two facili-                        Debbie’s trunk consists of a CD with course mate-
ties staff members, and I selected an architect                          rials and lesson plans, a website on Renaissance
team, Castellaw Kom and Hummel, from a pool of                           dress history, and several hand-on kits that teach
10. A Client and Design Team Committee made up                           students from high school to adults how to spin,
of the 4-member architect team, 6 faculty members,                       dye, weave, make Renaissance clothing from
the Development Coordinator, and I have met 4                            scratch, and embroider—all within the context of
times for at least 3 hours each to redesign the                          the family economy and social structure of the 15th
Foods Laboratory, the Child Development Labora-                          and 16th centuries. In other words, she is also
tory, and the Niccolls 202 classroom. While we                           teaching FCS concepts at the same time. For a
have only the money now to remodel the Foods                             look at her website go to:
Lab, the other two rooms are ready to go.                      
The architects will present their final plans mid-
January. If all goes according to plan, we will begin
the remodel of the Foods Lab May 17, 2010. Of                                               FCS In the News
course, life often does not follow the script, and we
may need to find new digs for foods lab classes in                       This has been a great season for publicity in Family
the fall, but this is a tremendous leap forward.                         and Consumer Sciences.

              School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
•   Sandy McCurdy and graduate student Court-                            in the past, and the current board is trying to ree-
    ney Stazak were interviewed on Boise radio                           nergize the group. In response to a recent survey,
    while they were in town conducting research on                       the current membership said what they most
    using thermometers to test the internal temper-                      wanted was to network, but that travel costs to
    ature of hamburger meat.                                             meetings were prohibitive.
•   SeAnne Safaii and her dietetics students were                        At the same time, adjunct professor Lori Wahl and
    profiled on Spokane Public Radio on October 5.                       two UI colleagues were funded by a UI technology
    Students were conducting grocery store tours                         grant to build a University of Idaho “island” in
    (reported in an earlier Communicator article) for                    Second Life. Second Life is a virtual reality tool that
    consumers with special needs, such as heart                          can be used for meetings, classes, and program
    health and lactose intolerance.                                      delivery. Soon, I and the other board members will
•   Margaret Ritchie Distinguished Speaker Push-                         be creating avatars and meeting in Second Life to
    pika Freitas was interviewed for the Lewiston                        see how it works. Then, each of us can bring other
    Tribune September 12, highlighting her work                          members in—the “each one teach one” model. In
    and its connection to the mission of Family and                      this way, we can make membership in IDAFCS
    Consumer Sciences.                                                   cost effective and valuable way to exchange re-
•   Betty Sawyer, Theresa Golis, and I were in-                          search and programming ideas and strategies.
    terviewed for two articles that appeared in the                      Watch this space for updates!
    Lewiston Tribune on November 22, 2009. The
    first featured a front-page spread on Betty
    Sawyer’s work as an FCS teacher in Potlatch,
    complete with terrific photos of her working with
                                                                                    A Second Haberly Report
    her male students. The second was based on
                                                                         Here is another example of how folks use Haberly
    an interview with me and covered the history of
                                                                         funding. Thanks, Joey and Shelly.
    home economics and why it is more necessary
    than ever.                                                           Haberly Report on Poverty Simulation Kit
These three articles were written by Joel Mills, who                     By Joey Peutz and Shelly Johnson
attended the Faculty Council meeting when I advo-
                                                                         The Haberly funds awarded to us this year were
cated for our FCS Education program. I am de-
                                                                         used to purchase a Community Action Poverty Si-
lighted that we appear to have an ally in the Tri-
                                                                         mulation Kit. This is a unique tool that allows us to
                                                                         educate individuals about the day-to-day realities of
•   And, back on February 9, Luke Erickson had an                        life with a shortage of money and an abundance of
    op-ed piece in the Idaho Falls Post Register on                      stress.
    “Getting Back to Basics” with spending and sav-
                                                                         During a simulation, participants role-play the lives
    ing habits.                                                          of low-income families, from single parents trying to
Keep up the good work, keeping our work in front of                      care for their children to senior citizens trying to
the press.                                                               maintain their self sufficiency on Social Security.
                                                                         The task of each family is to provide food, shelter,
                                                                         and other basic necessities during the simulation
The Idaho Association of Family and                                      while interacting with various community resources
                                                                         staffed by low-income volunteers.
        Consumer Sciences
                                                                         It is both Shelly’s and my goal to promote a greater
When you join the American Association of Family                         understanding of poverty. We believe this poverty
and Consumer Sciences, you also become a mem-                            simulation kit will be an asset to Idaho Family and
ber of the Idaho Association of Family and Con-                          Consumer Sciences by using the kit directly with
sumer Sciences. There are many associations to                           the ENP programs and hopefully with FCS faculty.
belong to and it is difficult to choose which ones                       We both thank the Professional Development
offer the best “value” in terms of opportunities for                     Committee and endowment donators for their vision
professional growth. The IDAFCS was very active                          and dedication to UI FCS Extension.

              School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
     Bisphenol A in the News Again
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in the
manufacture of polycarbonate plastics that are
used in clear plastic bottles and some food can
liners. The National Institutes of Health has noted
that there is “…some concern for neural and beha-
vioral effects in fetuses, infants, and children at cur-
rent human exposures,” and “…some concern for                            level is based upon results of a single controversial
effects in these populations based on effects in the                     study suggesting abnormal reproductive effects at
prostate gland, mammary gland, and an earlier age                        low doses of BPA.
for puberty in females” (see “Food Contact Packag-
ing,” The Communicator, June 2008).                                      Consumer exposure from BPA continues to be very
                                                                         low. A comprehensive study by the U.S. Centers for
The December 2009 issue of Consumer Reports                              Disease Control and Prevention in 2007 using urine
describes detection of Bisphenol A in several of the                     samples from more than 2,000 individuals
19 name-brand foods tested. While the findings                           concluded that typical daily exposures to BPA are
were predictable, the article drew national                              about one million times lower than the levels that
headlines with its contention that consumers could                       showed no adverse effects on reproduction or
be facing serious risks from exposure to BPA in                          development in comprehensive multigenerational
their foods.                                                             animal studies.

Dr. Carl K. Winter, Extension Food Toxicologist and                      November 30, 2009 was the deadline for the U.S.
Director of the FoodSafe Program at the University                       Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide a
of California (and author of the fun food and                            safety assessment of BPA in foods, which it
nutrition-related musical parodies that many of you                      apparently did not meet. This deadline was self-
have enjoyed) has prepared information to place                          imposed by the FDA after its science board
the Consumer Reports article in perspective; it is                       recommended that the FDA consider findings of
reproduced below.                                                        additional toxicological studies before determining
                                                                         an appropriate acceptable level of exposure. The
“The controversy stems from the debate over what                         Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant
levels of consumer exposure to BPA should be of                          Identification Committee of the California
concern. The U.S. Environmental Protection                               Environmental Protection Agency recently reviewed
Agency and the European Food Safety Authority                            BPA toxicology studies and reached the conclusion
consider an acceptable daily level of BPA exposure                       in July 2009 that BPA offered no clear evidence of
to be 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight                          developmental or reproductive harm to consumers.
per day. In contrast, the Consumer Reports article
argues for an acceptable daily level of 0.0024                           Decisions as to the acceptability of exposure to
micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day,                          chemicals such as BPA require a thorough review
which is more than 20,000 times lower than the                           of exposure levels and toxicology information, with
U.S. and European levels. This much more strict                          the ultimate decisions based upon a “weight of

              School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
evidence” approach. The “pick-and-choose”                                  different home-style food dehydrators to conduct
approach advocated in the Consumer Reports                                 their research. The researchers’ main conclusions
article is unlikely to sway scientific opinion                             were:
regardless of its impact of raising fears and distrust                     • There is a delicate balance between safety and
among consumers.”                                                               consumer acceptability for beef jerky.
Source:     “Concern over Canned Foods,” Consumer                          • Some home-style dehydrators, even those sold
            Reports, 74(12):54, December 2009; Winter,                          specifically for drying meat, were ineffective in
            C. “BPA Returns to the Consumer Stage,”                             producing safe ground beef jerky products. For
            Posted on ePerspective, December 2, 2009,                           example, depending on time and dehydrator
                           brand, lethality against E. coli O157:H7 ranged
            009/12/02/bpa-returns-to-the-consumer-                              from a 1.7 log reduction to a 6.0 log reduction
            stage.                                                              (a 5 log reduction is considered necessary for
Keywords:   packaging, food industry.                                           safety).
                                                                           • To produce a safe product from home-style
                                                                                food dehydrators, consumers must use a drying
                                                                                temperature of 155°F and must dry the meat
                                                                                strips for at least 12 hours. The researchers
                                                                                noted that many of the jerkys appeared visually
                                                                                done after 4 hours.
                                                                           • Additional safety can be achieved by utilizing a
                                                                                post-drying oven-heating step of 275°F for 10

                                                                           The main recommendation from the research is
                                                                           that consumers should be encouraged to include a
                                                                           post-drying oven-heating step to substantially in-
                                                                           crease safety while also yielding a product of ac-
                                                                           ceptable quality.

                                                                           This advice is in agreement with the more exten-
     Recommendations Regarding                                             sive information on meat jerky’s reported in the
    Ground-and-Formed Beef Jerky                                           February 2005 issue of The Communicator, “Re-
                                                                           view of Research on Meat Jerky,” but this latest
Seasoned ground beef jerky and equipment to                                information provides further evidence that ground
make the product are extremely popular. I learned                          beef jerky production requires care. The pre-drying
that recently (December 5th) when I spent a day                            hot brine dip and vinegar soak procedures de-
answering food safety questions at the “House-                             scribed in the Meat Jerky Fact Sheet in the No-
wares Expo” at our local sports equipment-                                 vember 2002 issue of The Communicator, pages 5-
hardware-housewares store. I staffed a table dis-                          6, and in the 2003 edition of the Food Safety Advi-
playing home food preservation equipment, which                            sor Volunteer Handbook, pg. 170-173, continue to
included samples of 3 kinds of ground beef jerky.                          be safe jerky preparation procedures for whole
(The jerky samples were prepared by the store’s                            muscle meat strips.
housewares manager; she used the UI Extension
                                                                           Source:      Borowski, A.G., Ingham, S.C., & Ingham,
instructions for post-drying oven heating of the jerky                                  B.H. 2009. Lethality of home-style dehydrator
for safety.)                                                                            processes against Escherichia coli O157:H7
                                                                                        and Salmonella serovars in the manufacture
Fortuitously, recent research from the University of                                    of ground-and-formed beef jerky and the po-
Wisconsin provided me with additional information                                       tential for using a pathogen surrogate in
about the safety of ground-and-formed beef jerky                                        process validation. J. Food Protection
that I could pass on to consumers. The researchers                                      72(10):2056-2064.
used pathogen-inoculated ground beef and three                             Keywords:    food preservation, meat and poultry.

                School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
    New Study Reveals Declines in the
      Health of American Workforce
In the midst of the most vigorous national health
care debate in 15 years, and at a time of heigh-
tened economic insecurity, new data on employers
show that the health of employed American work-
ers is trending downward in a number of important
areas. The State of Health in the American Work-
force, a report released in Fall 2009 by the Families
and Work Institute (FWI), finds that only 28 percent
of employees today report that their overall health
is “excellent,” down from 34 percent just six years
ago. Perhaps surprisingly, men’s overall health has
declined more rapidly than women’s. The report
also sheds light on the relationship between an ef-
fective workplace and employee health, underlining
the significant role that employers play beyond pro-
viding health insurance and wellness programs.
                                                                          five paid sick days—only 46 percent do compared
Among its many findings, the report reveals:                              with 66 percent of middle- and high-wage and
•    41 percent of employees report experiencing                          -income employees.
     three or more indicators of stress sometimes,
     often or very often;                                                 As to whether having an effective workplace makes
                                                                          a difference for employee health and well-being,
•    One in three employees experiences one or                            the FWI data suggest that the answer is “yes”—and
     more symptoms of clinical depression; and                            wage level and gender also influence in what way.
•    One in five employees has trouble falling asleep                     For example, FWI finds that 38 percent of em-
     very often or fairly often and 31 percent awaken                     ployees in workplaces that fall into the “high overall
     too early and have trouble falling back to sleep,                    effectiveness” category (based on six measurable
     also very often or fairly often.                                     criteria that include economic security, autonomy,
                                                                          work-life fit) report “excellent overall health.” By
•    21 percent are receiving treatment for high                          contrast, only 19 percent of employees in
     blood pressure and 14 percent are being                              workplaces that fall into the “low overall effective-
     treated for high cholesterol.                                        ness” category report “excellent overall health.”

Furthermore, the report finds that nearly half of U.S.                    “Few would disagree that the health care path we
employees (49 percent) have not engaged in regu-                          are on represents an untenable route to increasing
lar physical exercise in the last 30 days, including                      costs and diminishing returns,” said Ellen Galinsky,
22 percent not engaging in any rigorous physical                          co-founder and president of FWI. “This new report
exercise. And despite a push to stop smoking at the                       is replete with evidence that several key measures
workplace, one in four smokes.                                            of employee health are declining, and that employ-
                                                                          er policies fostering employee engagement and
In terms of health care coverage, 24 percent of low-                      satisfaction are also associated with better em-
wage/low-income employees have no insurance                               ployee health. The message is clear that beyond
from their employers or any other source, com-                            any reform measures on the table in Washington, it
pared with only 5 percent of middle- and high-                            is urgent for employers and employees to pay at-
income employees. Low-wage/low-income em-                                 tention to how they can promote better health,
ployees are also much less likely to receive at least                     which ultimately will save money.”

               School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
The new report is based on data from FWI’s 2008                          •    Having paid vacations bode well for person-
National Study of the Changing Workforce                                      al health and well-being, as well as intent to
(NSCW), the only study of its kind to provide 30+                             stay in one’s job—and longer vacations of-
year comparisons (from 1977 to 2008) of life on                               fer greater benefits than shorter ones. Se-
and off the job.                                                              venty-nine percent of employees have access
                                                                              to paid vacations with an average yearly time
Among the other noteworthy findings include:                                  off of 16 days. However, 39 percent of em-
                                                                              ployees don’t use all of their vacation time and
•   Employees’ physical and mental health,
                                                                              24 percent take five or fewer days for their
    stress levels, sleep quality and energy le-
                                                                              longest vacation. Eighty-two percent of em-
    vels all significantly impact important work
                                                                              ployees with 13+ paid vacation days say they
    outcomes of interest to employers, such as
                                                                              are “not at all likely to leave their jobs” com-
    engagement, turnover intent and job satis-
                                                                              pared to 68 percent with 6-12 vacation days.
    faction. Thirty-five percent of employees who
    rate their current overall health as excellent are
                                                                         Building upon other studies stemming from the
    highly engaged in their jobs, compared with on-
                                                                         2008 NSCW data, FWI’s State of Health in the
    ly 25 percent, 22 percent, and 23 percent of
                                                                         American Workforce report also explores various
    employees who rate their overall health as
                                                                         components of effective workplaces and what im-
    good, fair or poor, respectively.
                                                                         pact they have on employee health. Among the in-
•   Despite the prevalence of employer health                            teresting findings: being treated with respect by
    insurance programs, 8 percent of em-                                 managers and supervisors has a stronger effect on
    ployees in fact have no health insurance.                            the mental health of low-wage/low-income em-
    Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of U.S em-                            ployees than middle- or high-wage and -income
    ployees are covered by health insurance of-                          employees, and men are more positively affected
    fered by their employers. Of the balance, 26                         by having economic security in their jobs and a
    percent choose to access health insurance from                       good fit between their work and personal or family
    another source (e.g., a spouse’s employer), but                      lives, while women are more positively affected by
    8 percent of employees have no health insur-                         being challenged in their jobs and by having auton-
    ance from either their employer or from another                      omy.
                                                                         “In the daily grind of our busy lives, it’s easy to for-
•   Income level makes a difference. Low-
                                                                         get the price we eventually pay when we fall short
    wage/low-income employees are less likely
                                                                         on important things like sleep, diet or exercise,”
    to have access to employer health insur-
                                                                         said FWI Senior Research Associate and report co-
    ance. They are also less likely to use it, if it is
                                                                         author, Kerstin Aumann. “This report demonstrates
    available, and they are less likely to be covered
                                                                         how our workplaces—where we often spend most
    by another source. Sixty-six percent of low-
                                                                         of our waking hours—can help or hinder our per-
    wage/low-income employees have access to an
                                                                         sonal well-being and health. Our findings serve as
    employer health plan compared with 88 percent
                                                                         a wake-up call for employers and employees alike
    of middle- and high-wage and -income em-
                                                                         to take a closer look at how their organizations af-
                                                                         fect people’s health and well-being.”
•   Employees who receive at least five paid
    days off per year for personal illness report                        The new FWI study is fully downloadable at
    significantly better work and health/well-                 , where you can also take a
    being outcomes. Fifty-six percent of em-                             simple quiz to evaluate how well your work and life
    ployees with at least five paid days off for per-                    fit together.
    sonal illness report high job satisfaction com-
    pared to 49 percent with less than five days off.                    Source:      Families and Work Institute,
    Within the five-plus day group, 71 percent re-                          
    port no signs of depression, versus 61 percent
                                                                         Keywords:    employment, health.
    of those with less than five days off.

              School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
 Drinking 30 Ounces of Sugary Soda
 May Increase Your Blood Pressure

   12 oz      +       12 oz         +        6 oz     = 30 oz
   1 can      +       1 can         +       ½ can     = 30 oz

Fructose intake, in the form of added sugar, has
steadily increased in Western nations since the
1900s. This coincides with a parallel increase in
high blood pressure or hypertension incidence. Re-
searchers at the University of Colorado Health
Sciences Center have found a relationship between
the two factors.                                                         found an association between fructose intake and
The researchers analyzed fructose intake and                             blood pressure.
blood pressure readings of 4,528 adult participants
who completed the National Health and Nutrition                          Overall, participants who consumed 74 grams or
Examination Survey (NHANES) in 2003 and 2006.                            more per day of fructose had a 36 percent higher
None of the participants selected for this study had                     risk of having blood pressure that was 140/90 mm
a prior history of high blood pressure.                                  Hg or higher. Blood pressure readings should be
                                                                         below 120/80 mm Hg.
Researchers determined fructose intake by mea-
suring participants’ consumption of foods high in                        Jalal didn’t study why fructose may raise blood
added sugars such as bakery products, dairy des-                         pressure, but speculated on a nitric oxide mechan-
serts, chocolate and other candy, dried fruits, ho-                      ism that could explain the association. She stated,
neys, jams, jellies, syrups, and sugar-sweetened                         ''We know that fructose has the potential to reduce
soft drinks. The added sugar in these products is                        nitric oxide production within the blood vessels. Ni-
mainly fructose. Fresh fruits contain “natural” fruc-                    tric oxide relaxes the vessel and is suppose to low-
tose but their fructose content was not included in                      er blood pressure. Fructose reduces the production
the study because they contain ascorbate, potas-                         of nitric oxide and makes it difficult for the vessels
sium, and antioxidants, which cancel out the harm-                       to relax and dilate."
ful effect of fructose.
                                                                         The researchers hope to conduct a large clinical
The researchers found participants’ median fruc-                         trial to see if a low fructose diet will reduce the risk
tose intake (half had more, half had less) was 74                        of high blood pressure. In the meantime, they sug-
grams per day. This is the amount contained in 2½                        gest that individuals decrease their intake of
12-ounce cans of sugar-sweetened soda. Lead re-                          processed foods and beverages that contain added
searcher Dr. Diana Jalal noted that soft drinks                          sugar.
comprised 33-40 percent of fructose consumption
of participants.                                                         Source:
Jalal took factors such as age, physical activity, ca-
lorie intake, and salt intake into account and still                     Keywords:    fructose, sugar, soda, high blood pressure.

              School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
   Is the Acai Berry a Wonder Fruit?                                        
The acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berry is approx-                        Keywords:    fruit, antioxidants.
imately the size of a grape, and is a dark purple
color when ripe. It grows in the Amazon region of
Brazil. It is consumed raw, as a juice, and as a
supplement. In 2008 there were 53 new food and
drink products in the U.S. that contained the acai
berry. Total sales of acai products in 2008 was
$104 million, which was double the amount sold in
There are several reasons why acai has become so
popular. The first reason is that it comes from the
Amazon rain forest, and the link to an exotic loca-
tion appeals to people. Dr. Brian Wansink, a food
                                                                                    Why You Should Eat Slowly
psychology professor at Cornell University, stated,
                                                                         People have been told that eating fast may result in
“What do you think of when you think of Brazil? You
                                                                         overeating and may play a role in being overweight
think of the girl from Ipanema, a sort of mystical
                                                                         or obese. Earlier studies have shown that appetite-
culture where the people know health secrets we
                                                                         regulating hormones, that induce a feeling of full-
don’t. If acai came from Omaha, it wouldn’t have
                                                                         ness and satisfaction, are released after a meal is
the same effect.”
                                                                         consumed. Now researchers in London and Greece
A second reason for acai’s popularity is that it was                     have found that how fast you eat affects how much
promoted as a “Superfood for Age-Defying Beauty”                         of the appetite-regulating hormones are released.
by Nicholas Perricone, MD on the Oprah Winfrey                           In this study researchers had 17 male subjects
show. It was touted as a superfood because of its                        consume 300 ml (10 ounces) of ice cream in two
high antioxidant content. Antioxidants help neutral-                     different sessions. In the first session, the subjects
ize cell damaging molecules called free radicals                         ate the ice cream within five minutes. In the second
that are thought to play a role in aging and disease.                    session, the ice cream was divided into seven small
Researchers have found that antioxidant level in                         servings and subjects ate it over a 30 minute pe-
the acai berry varies from medium to high levels.                        riod.
Additional research is needed to validate antioxi-
dant content.                                                            The concentration of two hormones that play a role
                                                                         in feeling full, Peptide YY (PYY) and Glucagon-Like
The health claims that companies are making about                        Peptide 1 (GLP-1), were measured every 30 mi-
their acai products indicates they are not waiting for                   nutes for 210 minutes (approximately 3½ hours)
this additional testing. These claims include promis-                    after each session. The results showed that during
ing to cure heart disease and cancer, prevent ag-                        this 210 minute test period, PYY and GLP-1 con-
ing, help with weight loss and sexual performance,                       centrations were significantly higher when subjects
improve digestion and general health, and reduce                         took 30 minutes to eat the ice cream. Even though
the effects of arthritis.                                                the subject size was small and it was all males, the
                                                                         researchers believe the same effect would occur
It is not necessary to purchase acai or other exotic
                                                                         with women.
produce to obtain benefits from antioxidant rich
foods. Stick to consuming fruits and vegetables                          One way to limit your food intake is to eat slowly
from the five color groups—red, green, yel-                              and have a meal last 30 minutes.
low/orange, white/brown, and blue/purple—to get                          Source:      January 2010, Journal of Endocrinology &
the nutrients and other compounds known to pro-                                       Metabolism,
vide health benefits.                                                                 cgi/content/abstract/jc.2009-1018v1.
Source:   JADA, What is the Acai Berry and Are There                     Keyword:     food.
          Health Benefits?, November 2009,

              School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
 Americans Value Experiences More
  Than Acquiring Material Things
Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Ameri-
cans have changed their lives to elevate expe-
riences over things. Because of the Great Reces-
sion, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has
found nearly half of Americans are spending less
time buying non-essentials, and more than half are
spending less money in stores and online.
But Americans are not just getting by with less.
They are also doing more. Some are working long-
er hours, but a larger proportion, the poll shows,
are spending additional time with family and
friends, gardening, cooking, reading, watching tele-
vision and engaging in other hobbies. The Depart-
ment of Labor’s time use surveys to show a similar                       values—classes that focus on doing more with less,
trend: compared with 2005, Americans spent less                          cooking, gardening, inexpensive family activities,
time in 2008 buying goods and services and more                          relationship building. We also must ensure that our
time cooking or taking part in “organizational, civic,                   classes provide learning in an enjoyable environ-
and religious activities.”                                               ment with teaching methods that engage learners
                                                                         with relevant, rewarding experiences.
“Part of it is cyclical,” said the director of consumer
economics for a major economics website, Moody’s                         Source:      Adapted from Cave, D., January 2, 2010. In “They have less money, so they’ll                                        Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying
spend less time and money shopping, whether they                                      Less. New York, NY: New York Times. Re-
want to or not.” Still, poll found that the shift                                     trieved 1/3/10 from
spanned income brackets. And in interviews, many
Americans described motives beyond pure eco-
                                                                         Keywords:    consumer, education, values.
nomic necessity. Many young people, experiencing
their first economic downturn, are making different
choices. A young professional in the southeast re-
ported, “Now I am having fun working on projects
around my house, even if it is just pulling weeds or
taking my dog for a long walk.”
Those with diminished incomes described activities
in slightly different terms: as a distraction from fi-
nancial fear. Some have been desperate to get out
of the house, though in many cases, what began as
psychic necessity ended with deep appreciation. A
respondent from the mid-West said that since her                             Financial Capability in the United
husband was laid off from his job last year, she and                                      States
several relatives had made a family ritual out of
going to museums. “It’s something we can do for                          An individual’s financial literacy and access to basic
free,” she said. “It’s enjoyable.”                                       financial services affects household financial stabili-
This and other studies reinforce the importance of                       ty and may have long-term effects on financial well-
Cooperative Extension “seizing the moment” with                          being. In 2009 the FINRA Investor Education
educational experiences that reinforce changing                          Foundation commissioned the first comprehensive
                                                                         national study of the financial capability of adults in

              School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
the United States. The study provides sound empir-                       1. Making Ends Meet. Nearly half of survey res-
ical evidence regarding which families are most                          pondents reported facing difficulties in covering
vulnerable and where action is needed most. This                         monthly expenses and paying bills. Nearly one-
report contains detailed information about the fi-                       quarter (23%) of individuals with checking accounts
nancial knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of                            reported overdrawing those accounts on occasion.
Americans today. It details how Americans are try-                       Significantly, of those who overdrew their accounts,
ing to get by in the current economic environment,                       73 percent reported finding it very or somewhat dif-
and the areas where they are in need of better in-                       ficult to cover their monthly expenses and pay their
formation, better financial products, and better fi-                     bills.
nancial skills in order to prepare for the years
                                                                         Over the past year, household expenses (not in-
                                                                         cluding the purchase of a new house or car or other
Over the past several decades, the financial land-                       big investments) have been greater than income for
scape in the United States has changed significant-                      more than one of every 10 Americans (12 percent)
ly on several fronts. With respect to retirement, the                    and about equal to income for 36 percent of Ameri-
shift from defined benefit (pension) plans to defined                    cans.
contribution (401(k)-type) plans has transferred the
                                                                         Across all age groups up to age 60, approximately
burden of providing an income stream in retirement
                                                                         one-third (33%) of survey respondents reported
from employers to individuals. Not only must indi-
                                                                         that they are not saving. Significantly, a lack of sav-
viduals take greater charge of their financial wellbe-
                                                                         ings is strongly correlated with difficulty in making
ing once they retire, but they must also forecast
                                                                         ends meet, with approximately 66 percent of those
future financial needs, navigate increasingly com-
                                                                         who indicated they were not saving also stating
plex financial markets and manage risk, both during
                                                                         they found it somewhat or very difficult to cover
and after their working years. At the same time, fi-
                                                                         their monthly expenses and pay bills.
nancial products, including mortgages and products
used for saving and investing, have become more                          The recent economic crisis has hit individuals hard,
numerous and more complicated, requiring individ-                        hindering their ability to make ends meet. One-third
uals to make choices on an array of options. In ad-                      of respondents stated they had experienced a large
dition, the price tag for many components of the                         and unexpected drop in income during the past
American dream—including purchasing a home or                            year. Workers earning less than $25,000 a year
funding a child’s college education—has risen since                      and Hispanics appear to have been especially hard
the 1980s and 1990s. Especially with respect to                          hit, with 41 percent and 43 percent, respectively,
college tuition costs, that trend promises to contin-                    reporting a drop in income. Across all demographic
ue.                                                                      groups, those who suffered large decreases in in-
                                                                         come were more likely to report having difficulties
Against this backdrop, the consequences of not
                                                                         covering their expenses and were less likely to
having the necessary skills to make sound financial
decisions become even more severe. This is par-
ticularly true in times of economic instability, when                    2. Planning Ahead. The majority of Americans do
resources may be more limited and negative finan-                        not have “rainy day” funds set aside for unantici-
cial events, such as the loss of a job or a sharp de-                    pated financial emergencies and similarly do not
cline in income, more frequent. Not only has man-                        plan for predictable life events, such as their child-
aging day-to-day finances become more difficult for                      ren’s college education or their own retirement.
many Americans, but there are also greater risks in                      Among those in the 18-29 age group, only 31 per-
getting it wrong. This report contains detailed in-                      cent had set aside rainy day funds, while only 26
formation about the financial knowledge, attitudes                       percent of those with annual incomes below
and behavior of Americans today. It details how                          $25,000 had such funds. As a result, many individ-
Americans are trying to get by in the current eco-                       uals and families would not be able to draw on per-
nomic environment, and the areas where they are                          sonal financial resources if they were faced with an
in need of better information, better financial prod-                    economic shock. Individuals who lacked rainy day
ucts, and better financial skills in order to prepare                    funds were more likely to be hit by shocks. Specifi-
for the years ahead.                                                     cally, they were 1.5 times more likely to have expe-

              School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
rienced a large decrease in income in the past 12                        four credit cards. Slightly more than half of the res-
months than those who have an emergency fund                             pondents reported paying their card in full each
(40% compared with 26%). In addition, they ap-                           month (54%), while the rest (51%) carried over a
peared less prepared to cover the costs of unex-                         balance and were charged interest. Twenty-three
pected medical emergencies as they were 3.8                              percent reported being charged a fee for late pay-
times more likely to lack health insurance than                          ment, while eight percent said they had been
those who have an emergency fund (30% versus                             charged a fee for exceeding their credit line and
8%).                                                                     another eight percent used their cards for a cash
                                                                         advance. Mortgages, retirement accounts, owner-
3. Managing Financial Products. Deposit ac-                              ship of securities (stocks, bonds, mutual funds),
counts in banks or credit unions are critical financial                  and risk preference were also studied.
products for managing money and saving. Yet 15
percent of survey respondents did not have a                             4. Financial Knowledge and Decision-Making.
checking account, and 28 percent did not have a                          While many American adults believed they were
savings account, a money market account or a                             adept at dealing with day-to-day financial matters,
time-deposit account, such as a Certificate of De-                       they nevertheless engaged in financial behaviors
posit.                                                                   that generated expenses and fees and exhibited a
                                                                         marked inability to do basic interest calculations
Overall, 12 percent of the U.S. population appears                       and other math-oriented tasks. In addition, few
to be “unbanked.” However, being unbanked is                             compared the terms of financial products or
more prevalent in some demographic groups, in-                           shopped around before making financial decisions.
cluding: Non-high school graduates (36%); Lower-
income households (31%); Hispanics (30%); Afri-                          Demographics. In general, measures of financial
can-Americans (28%); Young adults (22%). When                            capability are much lower among adults with no
asked why they did not have a checking or savings                        post-secondary educational experience and those
account, the vast majority listed not having enough                      with household incomes below $25,000 per year,
money as their main reason. Not having a deposit                         indicating that those populations are most vulnera-
account can make it more difficult, and often more                       ble. Hispanics and African-Americans, who are dis-
costly, to manage one’s cash and conduct financial                       proportionately represented in these education and
transactions. For example, 71 percent of the un-                         income segments, also face higher levels of expo-
banked sometimes used money orders to pay bills,                         sure.
and 47 percent used check cashing stores to cash
checks.                                                                  Summary. The findings from the National Survey
                                                                         paint a troubling picture of the current state of fi-
More than one in five Americans reported engaging                        nancial capability in the U.S. adult population. This
in non-bank, alternative borrowing methods such as                       is not only important for those individuals who
taking out an auto title loan or a payday loan, get-                     demonstrate low levels of financial capability, but
ting an advance on a tax refund, using a pawn shop                       also for the United States as a whole, particularly in
or using a rent-to-own store. These borrowing me-                        tough economic times. When people make poor
thods are likely to charge higher interest rates than                    financial decisions, the cost of those decisions is
those charged by banks, credit unions, or credit                         often passed on to all Americans through higher
card companies. Moreover, as widely reported in                          prices for financial products, the diversion of eco-
financial literacy literature, use of these products                     nomic resources and greater strains on existing
often indicates individuals have poor credit histo-                      social safety nets.
ries, lack of access to more traditional sources of
credit or both.                                                          The good news is that the findings also demon-
                                                                         strate that increasing financial capability can have
A more traditional way in which many Americans                           profound implications on the financial security, well-
borrow is through the use of credit cards. More than                     being, and prosperity of individuals and families. A
two in three (68%) reported having credit cards. In                      more financially capable population can result in a
addition, among those who reported having credit                         larger and more efficient market for financial prod-
cards, about 27 percent stated they had at least                         ucts, greater participation in asset building and

              School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010
greater financial stability. It is therefore in every-                     The CRL findings report that the majority of con-
one’s interest that action be taken to improve the                         sumers (~80%), including those that have recently
financial capability of all Americans.                                     overdrawn their accounts, would prefer that over-
                                                                           drafts not be covered. Obviously this is easy to im-
Source:     FINRA Investor Education Foundation, De-                       plement as the vast majority of overdraft fees are
            cember 2009, Report on the National Survey
                                                                           triggered by debit card transactions and ATM with-
            Component of the National Financial Capabil-
            ity Study—Executive Summary. Retrieved                         drawals, not by checks. In addition to authorizing
            12/31/09 from                  the overdraft, the law also states that the fees must
            web/groups/foundation/@foundation/docume                       be "reasonable." This term has still not been de-
            nts/foundation/p120535.pdf.                                    fined!
Keywords:   financial management, financial literacy.
                                                                           The fact that over 25 percent of all debit card trans-
                                                                           actions are for purchases of less than $10 indicates
                                                                           that a $35 fee would not be reasonable. The fees
                                                                           are currently more than twice the amount of the
                                                                           original overdraft amount. Overall in 2008, con-
                                                                           sumers owed $45 billion for the $21.3 billion of cre-
                                                                           dit that was extended. Unfortunately, the most likely
                                                                           to fall into this trap? Lower income groups and
                                                                           young adults (18-25).
    Overdraft Fees Benefit Financial                                       To put the ridiculousness of overdraft fees into
     Institutions, Not Consumers                                           perspective, consider this. Americans will spend
                                                                           considerably more on overdraft fees this year
Amidst the turbulence and change among financial                           ($23.7B) than books ($14.2B) or postage ($18.3B).
products, there’s been one constant—overdraft
fees! The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) re-                         Additional Findings of Interest:
ports an "explosion" in overdraft fees that have in-                       * 50+ million checking accounts overdrawn over 12
creased 35 percent in the past two years (not a bad                        month period.
move in revenue in recessionary times). Current                            ---> Over 1/2 of those (27 million) had 5+ overdraft
standard practice for most banks and credit unions                              incidents.
is to automatically enroll checking account custom-                        ---> 18 million consumers had 10+ overdraft occur-
ers in an expensive overdraft program that general-                             rences.
ly generates fees of nearly $35 per overdraft.
                                                                           * Banks/CUs collected nearly $24 billion in over-
Fortunately, this "service" as most institutions                           draft fees in 2008.
perceive them, will be modified with the upcoming                          ---> Analysts estimate this will balloon to $27 billion
Credit CARD Act of 2009 which goes into effect on                               for 2009.
February 22, 2010. Consumers will need to author-
ize financial institutions to provide overdraft "protec-                   * Banks make more on covering overdrafts than
tion" as opposed to simply letting the charge be                           credit card penalty fees.
denied. The Federal Reserve Board, which will re-                          Source:      Oleson, M., October 27, 2009, Overdraft
gulate fees under the new law, reports that before                                      Fees—Constancy Amidst Change. Dr. Ole-
opting in, the consumer must be provided a notice                                       son, Financial Tips electronic newsletter.
that explains the financial institution's overdraft ser-                                Federal Reserve Board, November 12, 2009.
vices, including the fees associated with the ser-                                      Press Releases. Retrieved 1/4/10 from
vice, and the consumer's choices. According to a                              
Federal Reserve website, banks must comply with                                         ess/bcreg/20091112a.htm and
this provision of the CARD Act by July 1, 2010.                               
                                                                           Keywords:    banking, fees.

                School of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, The Communicator, January 2010