Discovered: corporations like sustainability too, salt's better side, when autism develops, more parents on Facebook, and a serious focus group.

  • This week, your salt intake isn't so bad for you.  Eating too much salt isn't particularly good for you, as the FDA and Mayor Bloomberg keep reminding us. But the question of "well, just how bad is it?" takes the debate into a gray area, one that a new meta-analysis led by a Denmark-based researcher has an answer for: "I can't really see, if you look at the total evidence, that there is any reason to believe there is a net benefit of decreasing sodium intake in the general population," he told Reuters, which pointed out that his study is calling on governments to "re-evaluate policies advising everyone to eat less salt."  [Reuters]
  • Corporations love sustainability just as much as people do. Even though that sentence seems like a Mitt Romney throwaway line, there's something to it: "Almost three-quarters of Standard & Poor's top 500 US companies mentioned one or more sustainability programs on their websites." Well, that seems like progress, as long as it's not just to--"a new study shows that the largest companies are doing so in order to attract and maintain a profitable customer base rather than to actually incorporate and promote sustainability." Nevermind. [Eurekalert via Emily Badger]
  • Nickelodeon seems serious about their research focus group rules. The Spongebob channel is premiering a spin-off geared toward moms to lure advertising money. What's more interesting, however, was the background legwork the network did in order to understand how moms think outside family time, as The Wall Street Journal reported: "Nickelodeon paid 11 moms about $1,500 and put them up in a hotel for two nights while observing the effects on them and their families." But, since the channel required no contact at all between the moms and their families, "This turned out to be very difficult for most moms, and was in some cases a dealbreaker—to the point where Nickelodeon had trouble filling the 11 slots." Unsurprisingly, these were the findings: Moms "'do not recognize a 'non-mom' part of their identities,' the study found." [The Wall Street Journal]
  • Autism may develop before birth, be distinguished by more brain cells. These are the findings of a new case study on autism, according to CNN: 1) Autistic children tend to have more brain cells: "Having too many neurons or nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls the very features that children with autism struggle with may explain the origin of autism." 2) It may develop before birth: "since the excess neurons were found in a part of the brain that develops before a child is born, it points to a prenatal problem playing a role in autism." Both findings, the news outlet notes, mostly confirm previous research. [CNN]
  • Parents are slowly but surely learning how to properly use the internet. The latest Pew Research release finds that "40 percent of parents of teens have friended their children on a social-networking site," the AP informs, also reporting the inevitable result: "it tends to lead to more conflicts between parent and child over an experience on such sites." On parents as teachers, The New York Times dryly remarks: "Parents are not entirely useless. The survey found that 86 percent of teens said parents advised them on “how to use the Internet responsibly and safely." [Associated Press, The New York Times]