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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 3 December 2007

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Fat stomachs and double chins main concerns for camera-obsessed Brits

CANON UK, world-leader in imaging technology solutions for the home and office, unveiled research that shows 86% of Brits believe they’re un-photogenic and many are contorting their bodies into all sorts of positions in front of the camera in order to look good. 52% of us are insecure about our stomachs, and hold them in whenever a camera appears. A 3rd of us take action to hide double chins being seen in photos.

The research, which questioned 1700 people across the UK, also shows that there is increasingly nowhere for people to hide – the popularity of digital cameras (95% of people have at least 1 digital photographic device) and social networking sites mean those bad photos of you with 3 chins will live forever on the web. 1 in 5 people in the UK even believes that they have appeared in up to 5000 pictures in their lifetime.

The popularity of social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace (78% of total UK online population is part of a social networking site), and photo-sharing sites, such as Flickr, ups the pressure for people to look good in every picture, as previously private photos are now being displayed to a public audience (often without the subject’s permission). Canon research highlights the main tactics that Brits use to look good in photos:-

· 52% of people admit to holding in their stomachs in photographs, rising to 60% of women, making looking fat our biggest fear.

· Having a double chin comes in 2nd – 25% are happy to look slightly odd by thrusting their heads back every time a picture is taken, with Yorkshire men and women the most concerned (30%). 5% of people also try to avoid 2 chins by putting their tongue to the top of their mouth.

· 1 in 5 resort to turning to the side and 1 in 10 cross their legs in an attempt to look thinner.

· The study found the public are also using professional tricks such as considering the position of the light source (19% won’t be photographed in direct sunlight and 3% insist on being lit from below).

· It isn’t just posing for the picture that offers the opportunity to improve how you look – 1 in 5 people admit to digitally re-touching photos to make themselves look better, rising to 41% of 16-24 year olds.

· Londoners are the most vain with more than a 1/4 admitting to regularly re-touching images to improve how they look (see the full National Vanity League below).

Other tactics employed to look better in front of the lens include placing one leg forward and thrusting shoulders back, pouting, keeping your mouth shut to hide unsightly teeth, taking photos from a distance and applying lots of makeup. Some even admitted to running away at the last minute, making sure they were always the one behind the camera or more commonly, hiding behind someone else just as the picture is about to be taken. Perhaps the Northern Irish have the right idea with 1 in 10 just opting for standing next to someone less attractive than them.

The widespread use of social networking sites means we are at risk of having a bad picture taken and posted for all to see, with friends and family snapping us and uploading the results – flattering or otherwise. Russell Clisby, resident Heathrow Airport photographer, of the BBC Airport series, has been snapping celebrities as they step off the plane for nearly 28 years. He explains the tricks that celebrities use to look good at their worst:-

· “Dark glasses, and they seem to be getting bigger and bigger and I have rarely seen Posh without hers on.”

· “The hat or hooded top is another celebrity security blanket, in most of my airport photos of Leo Di Caprio, he always has his hood up.”

· “It’s not uncommon for celebrities to re-touch their make-up before they land so they look good when they arrive”

· “Or the last resort – hide behind your minder.”

“Celebrities know that bad pictures will be the first to appear in the press because people aren’t used to seeing them looking less than perfect. When taking photos of family and friends it’s better for people to just look natural and happy. Make sure you’re being shot from above to avoid a double chin if you must, but the best photos are where the subject is enjoying the moment and not worrying about how they look,” Russell says.

53% of those questioned claimed that digital cameras and the ability to manipulate pictures, using popular PC-based software, have made us a more attractive nation (a figure which rises to 64% in Wales). Using the research, Canon has compiled a National Vanity League, which exposes the UK’s photo cheats.

Ranking Most likely region/country to re-touch digital images:-

1.   London
2.   Midlands
3.   Yorkshire
4.   Scotland
5.   South East
6.   North East
7.   Wales
8.   South West
9.   East
10. North West
11. Northern Ireland

“While we love taking photographs and enjoy looking at the memories that we capture on camera, we still want to look our best when we are in the picture. There’s also added pressure now to look picture-perfect, as images that friends take are very likely to be uploaded for everyone to see. Luckily, technology available in cameras and photo-editing software means that it is easier than ever for us to look good,” comments Alessandro Stanzani, Head of Consumer Imaging, Canon UK.

NHS Trusts crippled by hip fracture costs, study reveals

NHS trusts are losing £millions per year due to gross under funding of hip fracture provision, research published at the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) conference – the leading conference on osteoporosis in the UK – in Edinburgh has revealed.

The study, which was carried out by a team of researchers from Queen’s Medical Centre Nottingham, found that the local NHS trust was losing £3,972 per hip fracture patient – amounting to a total of £3 million per year, just for one trust.  There are more approximately 75,000 hip fractures a year across the UK. The funding gap for the whole of the UK could therefore be almost £300 million.  The researchers studied 100 elderly patients over a12-month period who were admitted to the Queen’s Medical Centre for hip fracture. Detailed cost analysis was undertaken and HRG codes were assigned to each patient so that individual patient funding could be ascertained.

Dr Karan Johal, who led the research at Queen’s Medical Centre, says:- “Our research revealed that the average cost per hip fracture patient amounted to £10,194. However, the average funding was £6,222 – a discrepancy of £3,972 per patient.  The results underline the fact that hip fracture provision is grossly under funded and a thorough review of hip fracture funding is required, as numbers will only increase and the NHS will be plunged into further debt,” Johal continued.

Claire Severgnini, CEO of the NOS added:- “The results of this study highlight the enormous financial burden of hip fractures to the National Health Service. In order to slow down the spiralling costs of hip fracture in this country and to bring about an improvement in quality of life for older people, we urge the government to invest in better preventative treatment for osteoporosis.”

Liverpool Christmas Market Returns

GERAUD Markets (Liverpool) Ltd, in partnership with Liverpool City Council is pleased to announce the return of the Liverpool Christmas Market. Now in its 3rd year, the event runs from Saturday 8 December to Saturday 22 December on Williamson Square and Tarleton Street. The market will consist of traditional German style chalets complete with full exterior lighting displays and will open from 10.00am to 6.00pm up to and including close of business on Saturday 22 December 2007.

The market will feature traders selling Christmas Crafts and Gifts along with a selection of fine foods and chocolates. In addition, this year there will be a heated beer marquee selling a selection of German Beers; Gluwein’s and hot chocolates and coffees.

Special Events Development Manager, Andrew Grimshaw, said:- “In 2006 we put down a marker of intent for future years with regards to Christmas Markets in the City. The location on Williamson Square worked well and we have learnt lessons from the event. We are confident that with the support of a number of stakeholders in the city we can make the event in 2007 a roaring success. We are looking enhance the overall Christmas shopping offer in the city and help to cement its reputation for quality, value and variety.”

Liverpool City Council's Executive Member for the environment, Councillor Berni Turner, said:- "The Christmas market is extremely popular and offers a wide range of quality goods ranging from arts and crafts to mulled wine.  It really gets people into the festive spirit and I hope as many people as possible visit the market and make it an even bigger success."

10,000 teenagers studying personal finance qualifications

FINANCIAL education charity, the ifs School of Finance, confirmed that over 10,000 teenagers are studying 1 of their GCSE, AS or A level equivalent qualifications in personal finance.

Earlier this week a Price Waterhouse Coopers report suggested that the average Briton is in debt to the tune of £33,000 compared to £17,000 in 2000. The Citizens Advice Bureau this month confirmed that its staff dealt with a record 1.7 million debt problems during the last year, an increase of 20% on the previous year. In addition to debt problems, there is a worrying lack of general financial capability in the UK today; 79% of people do not know what an APR is, 25% of Britons have no idea how much they spend in a week and 26% have no idea of their monthly cash flow.

By equipping future generations with the ability to make informed financial decisions, many of these problems will be reduced, a fact increasingly recognised by schools and colleges in England and Wales.  The ifs School of Finance is currently the only organisation providing GCSE, AS and A level equivalent qualifications in personal finance to schools and colleges in the UK.

Anne Kiem, Director of External Affairs at the ifs School of Finance, said:- “The fact that more than 10,000 14-19 year olds are now gaining the skills necessary to manage their own finances and make informed financial decisions is clearly great news.  The feedback from students and teachers has been impressive, as has independent research from the University of Manchester. This research concluded that 95% of students taking an ifs course were able to manage their own finances.  With such clear evidence that these qualifications change financial behaviour, we are not surprised that so many schools are now ensuring they give their students the opportunity to gain such crucial life skills.  However, tens of thousands of students across the UK continue to miss out on these opportunities and this is why we would like to see Government ensure schools offer their students the choice of taking a standalone qualification in personal finance.”

The ifs School of Finance is campaigning for Government to add personal finance to the core school curriculum, putting personal finance on an equal footing with other subjects such as Geography, History and Modern Foreign languages i.e. compulsory for schools to offer it but not compulsory for all students to take it.  Current and planned Government policy does not include any statutory provision of financial education in schools, nor does it provide for any examinable financial education in schools. Furthermore, none of the existing coverage of personal finance is standalone; it is all incorporated into existing diverse subjects such as PSHEE, Enterprise Education or Citizenship which research suggests is less effective than a standalone subject. Email Us Your News Now

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