Happiness Index: One Third of Americans Very Happy, Men’s Happiness Lowers

A third of Americans (33 percent) are happy, reveals the latest Happiness Index from Harris Poll. The share of happy Americans is down two percent from the results in 2009 and 2008, when the portion of very happy Americans was 35 percent.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive from May 9-16 with the participation of 2,184 American adults. The poll uses timeless and standard questions to assess the overall level of happiness in the US each year.

The participants were asked if they disagreed or agreed with a series of positive and negative statements about their relationships with friends, their health concerns, their financial situation, hobbies and activities, and various other aspects of their life.

The survey also revealed that women are happier than men – 31 percent of the men said they were very happy, down one percent from last year, and 3 percent from 2009, while 36 percent of women said they were very happy, up one percent from last year.

Racial groups show some significant differences. White Americans are the least happy, with only 32 percent saying they were very happy, while 44 percent of African Americans said they were very happy, up from 40 percent last year. Latin Americans come in second according to happiness levels, with 35 percent of the group saying they were very happy, down four percent from last year.

Not surprisingly, the happiest Americans are those from households with income of at least 100,000 dollars per year. The surprise came when Harris Interactive identified the least happy group – households making 75,000-99,999 dollars per year. In this group, only 29 percent of the respondents said they were very happy.


Boehringer Ingelheim and Zealand Pharma Partner to Advance New Diabetes Treatment

Copenhagen-based bio-pharmaceutical company, Zealand Pharma, and another world leading pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim, entered a collaboration agreement and an exclusive global license for glucagon/GLP-1 receptor agonists, which will be used to treat patients with obesity and type-2 diabetes.

As part of the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim will finance the research and development, as well as commercialization, of Zealand Pharma’s ZP2929, the company’s leading candidate in the glucagon/GLP-1 receptor agonists. Zealand Pharma will receive milestone payments amounting to 376 million euros for ZP2929. The Danish company will also be responsible for producing the Phase I study.

The Danish company is also eligible for additional milestone payments for other products that may result from the collaboration, royalties from global sales, and it will retain its share of promotion rights for the Scandinavian regions.

In the first two years of the agreement, the company will receive payments of some 41 million euros, which will include cost reimbursements and research funding of 4 million euros.

Zealand Pharma’s president and CEO, David Solomon, expressed his company’s content for the partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim for the development of diabetes treatments.

The Danish company’s revenues are expected to be positively impacted by the financial part of the agreement through an addition of 20 million euros (150 million Danish kroner) in 2011. Nonetheless, the company’s forecast for operating expenses will be kept at 23 million euros (170 million Danish kroner).

The ZP2929 compound will be developed in the form of a daily injection. The product has shown exceptional results in preclinical trials – improvement of glycemic control and triggering of weight loss, which makes it a viable candidate for the treatment of both obesity and type-2 diabetes.

MyPlate Icon Puts Grains on the Healthy Menu

USARice LogoThe new icon released by the US Department of Agriculture, MyPlate, includes a significant portion of rice and other grains in what is considered to be a healthy diet.

The icon shows the ingredients of a healthy everyday diet, and it replaces the food pyramid used previously to illustrate the composition of a healthy daily menu.

The proportion of grains that appear on the plate icon, together with fruit, protein and vegetables, suggests that the USDA acknowledges the importance of rice in the diet. This category makes up for nearly 75 percent of the ingredients recommended by USDA.

According to the dietary recommendations, 45-65 percent of the calories should come from natural carbohydrates, and not from foods with saturated fats or added sugar.

Leading expert in nutrition, Dr. Keith Ayoob, said that he applauded the accent USDA put on grains, vegetable and fruit, but he also added that regular families find it difficult to resist unhealthy foods. He added that rice is already a common element in a family’s menu, and that is a good step towards introducing more vegetables and fruit in the menu, because it is very versatile.

Dr. Ayoob pointed out that some grains are the ingredients containing the highest levels of folic acid, and they provide about 15 percent of the total intake of folic acid.

USA Rice Federation’s president and CEO, Betsy Ward, said that consumers will soon have gains from the MyPlate icon and that the Federation was willing to educate nutrition professional and the public in the coming years.


Index of Restaurant Performance Stays Over 100 for Five Months in a Row

Restaurant Performance IndexCompanies that operate restaurant businesses in the US reported positive same-store traffic and sales, and they continue to have an optimistic outlook for sales growth.

The Restaurant Performance index for April was at 100.9, with a slight change from the previous month, when its value was of 101.0. Furthermore, April is the fifth month in a row to have an index above 100, suggesting that key industry indicators continue to improve.

The Restaurant Performance index is a monthly composite that follows the performance and outlook of the US restaurant industry. The index is issued by the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

NRA’s senior vice president of research, Hudson Riehle, pointed out that, given the current situation of the US restaurant industry, restaurant traffic and sales will continue to improve in the coming months, provided that the industry is not hit by significant external shocks.

The index measures the health of the US restaurant businesses in relation to a constant value of 100. A value of the index above this constant suggests that industry indicators are improving, while a value below 100 would suggest industry contraction.

The index has two main components, one dealing with the industry’s Current Situation, the other with the industry’s Excpectations.

The index for the industry’s current situation in April was 100.3, a slight increase from the March value of 100.2 and above the threshold of 100 for the second month in a row. About half of the restaurant operators in US reported sale gains in April, down two percent from March. Decreased sales were reported only by 31 percent, a ratio that remained unchanged from the previous month.

The expectations index had a slight decrease, from the March level of 101.7 to April’s 101, marking the ninth month in a row with a positive value, despite the small contraction. Based on the expectations index, the restaurant industry’s six-month outlook is optimistic.

Colliers International: American Retailers to Expand in the Next 12-18 Months

Improving economic signals, surge in jobs, growing sales and higher demand open the way for the opening of new stores and further development of the US retail sector over the upcoming 12-18 months.

Retailers are actively planning and discussing the opening or construction of new stores, especially in select market sectors, such as discount and value retailers, restaurants and luxury retail. These sectors are also the most likely to expand.

If the positive economic trends continue, keeping gas prices and home prices in check while employment figures post positive developments, retailers could boost consumer sales by 4.5 percent for this year’s winter holiday season. Such growth would signal that the market is growing healthy, returning to its pre-crisis state.

Colliers International also pointed out that the companies are returning to basics by basing their expansion plans on the core performance of their business.

The US Retail director at Colliers International, Mark Keschl, said that some sectors will have a better performance than others. Nonetheless, he added, retailers are planning to expand their business for the first time in several years through either new constructions or leasing space.

Retail vacancies across the US have remained flat since last year, at some 11 percent.

According to Colliers International US chief economist, Ross Moore, the retail sector is stronger than reported, despite the fact that mid-range retail companies have not yet started to feel the effects of economic improvements.

College Students Favor Wal-Mart and Target When Shopping

The top retail shops that college students prefer to do their shopping at are Wal-Mart and Target, reveal the latest Student Watch survey made by OnCampus Research.

The top position in the top of the favorite retails shops of college students is Wal-Mart, with 62 percent of students reporting that they shopped there in the past three months. On the second spot comes Target, quite close to the top player, with 58 percent.

On the third and fourth places in the students’ preferences, with 36 percent, come dollar stores such as Dollar General and Dollar Tree.

When looked at from a student status perspective, freshmen prefer Wal-Mart, with 69 percent of them reporting they did their shopping there, while 59 percent of the graduates said they did most of their shopping in Target stores.

Divided by gender preference, the majority of females shopped at Victoria’s Secret and Forever 21 in the past 90 days, while males went for Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kohl’s.

The survey was conducted in October 2010 with the participation of more than 15,000 students from 21 college campuses across the US. The survey was published and sponsored by the NACS Foundation.

The consultative group OnCampus Research aims to assist companies in acquiring an improved understanding of the college market. The group offers qualitative and quantitative research in campuses nationwide through its online panel of approximately 18,000 students from 1,100 colleges in the US.

OnCampus Research specializes in in-depth interviews, syndicated studies, omnibus surveys, focus groups and online surveys.

Beactica Enters New Drug Discovery Partnership

Leading Swedish company operating in the field of fragment-based drug discovery, Beactica, announced that an agreement has been signed with one of the divisions of Janssen Pharmaceutica, Janssen Research & Development.

As part of the agreement, Beactica’s drug discovery technology Sprint will be used to create compounds based on small molecules that would act against various targets, which were not disclosed.

The financial details of the agreement have not been made public.

Chief executive Per Källblad of Beactica said that his company was thrilled to work together with Janssen to support the company’s drug discovery programs. He added that fragment-based discovery is one of the processes that can lead to new ways to produce small-molecule compounds of high quality, and Beactica is striving to remain at the top of cutting-edge companies in the field.

Janssen Research & Development is the fourth company in the global top 20 that signed a research agreement with Beactica in the past year and a half.

Beactica is a company that specializes in drug discovery. The company developed proprietary methodologies and technologies that help to evaluate the interaction of various molecules, thus assisting in the generation of novel therapies.

The company was established in 2006, spanning from research programs that took place at the University of Uppsala and experience in drug discovery. Beactica established itself as a reputable company in the field of small molecule discovery based on surface plasmon resonance. The company is conducting its own drug discovery programs.

Two in Five UK Workers Plant to Retire This Year

A survey conducted by the London-based insurance company Prudential reveals that 2 in five non-retired persons in the UK plan to retire this year.

The survey was conducted on behalf of Prudential by Research Plus among more than 10,000 adults above the age of 45 in December last year.

The 43 percent share that is planning to retire in 2011 received no advice on retirement plans or they rely on nonprofessional advice. Most of them have gathered their financial information and pension advice from the media and the Internet.

About 28 percent of those who are planning to retire in 2011 received their financial and pension information from licensed financial advisors. This percentage remained at the same level as in 2010.

The Prudential survey shows an increasing tendency of people performing their own research on financial issues before seeking the advice of professional retirement counsel, as approximately half of the people who consulted a licensed financial advisor have also conducted research in the media and online.

About nine percent of the surveyed UK employees said that they were relying on their employers as a main source of pre-retirement advice, while more than 15 percent said that they were counting on family and friends, banks and providers of financial services.

According to Prudential’s distribution strategy manager, many people are missing out on expert advice by relying on their own research, and they could end up making mistakes in their retirement plans. He recommends people to save up money from as early as possible in order to ensure their retirement income, as well as to seek expert advice as their retirement year approaches.

Princeton Review: Free Guide to Environmentally-responsible Colleges Around US

princeton reviewAs Earth Day approaches, the Princeton Review released its second edition of the book that lists the colleges in the US that practice environmentally responsible policies. The guide was created with the assistance of the Green Building Council, and it is available for free in electronic form.

The Guide to Green Colleges from Princeton Review presents three Canadian and 308 US higher education institutions that have demonstrated their commitment to sustainability in their career preparation, activities, campus infrastructure, and academic programs. The book has 220 pages, and it can be downloaded from the websites of the Princeton Review and Center for Green Schools.

The book contains information about the application process, admissions, student enrollment and financial aid for each of the 311 schools, as well as highlights the green achievements and initiatives of each school. Furthermore, students and parents will be able to read some facts about the schools’ environmental programs, use of green energy, programs of environmental study and career guidance for students that plan to pursue a career related to environmental issues.

For an easy understanding of the environmental performances of the education institutions presented in the book, readers will have the possibility to refer to a 40+ words glossary of environment-related terms.

The final section in the book contains stories about the ways in which 10 of the schools are creatively tackling various sustainability issues.

Princeton Review Senior Vice-president, Robert Franek, pointed out that, from 8,200 students surveyed by Princeton Review this spring, 69 percent said that a college’s environmental responsibility would play a key role in their choice of college.

The schools included in the Guide were chosen based on the results of a survey conducted in 2010, which asked school administrators to answer roughly 50 questions about the environmental policies of their institution. The schools were given a 60-to-99 Green Rating, and the ones that are included in the Guide have a rating of more than 80. Princeton Review rated 703 education institutions.


Top 15 Unconventional Scholarships for College in 2011-2012

college_scholarshipsAwkward talents, derived from passions of children inspired from TV shows, legend or plainly having fun, can land the gifted a college scholarship.

Other talents that might be appreciated are the capacity to see the future, knitting wool clothing, baking pies, community service with a milk mustache and sincerely singing the National Anthem. These are just some of the talents and inclinations that, according to the Aristotle Circle, could get children bound for college a scholarship.

The Aristotle Circle is a network of leading experts in college admissions and financial aid program counseling.

The organization made a list of the 15 most unusual opportunities for a college scholarship. The financial aid of the scholarship ranges from 500 dollars for sleeping in a loft bed to 10,000 dollars for finding the perfect Christmas tree for Santa.

Those interested in studying languages can receive a 500 dollars scholarship to study Klingon. For a 5,000 dollars scholarship, college candidates only need to win a National Marbles Tournament. If they are experts in duck calling, that can land them a 1,500 dollars prize.

Couples can receive a 6,000-dollar scholarship called Stuck-on-Prom, while a milk mustache can bring 7,500 dollars. Patrick Kerr offers 5,000 dollars to expert skateboarders, while the best apple pie can land college candidates 25,000 dollars from the Culinary Institute of America.

According to one of Aristotle Circle’s experts, also a former director for financial aid and admissions at Columbia University, Rod Bugarin, the increasing costs of higher education give rise to the need to assist parents and students with finding colleges and scholarships for need-based specialties.