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Number in podiatrist's warning on foot pain invented by ad executive

WASHINGTON—When Chicago podiatrist Paul Kasdan warned in a news release this spring that "approximately five million gardeners are expected to experience some sort of foot pain this season," it sounded like one more thing to worry about.

It isn't.

Laura Tanin, the ad executive for Kasdan's online foot care-products business, invented the number.

Tanin started with an estimate that 7 million Americans garden weekly, which she found in a marketing text.

She multiplied 7 million by 75 percent to get 5 million footsore gardeners. The percentage is based, Tanin said, on an American Podiatric Medical Association statistic that three-quarters of Americans suffer foot pain.

Amie Haer, an association spokeswoman, had a problem with the finding: The podiatrists group's Web site says 75 percent of Americans have foot pain at some point in their lives, not in a single season.

How did Haer's association determine that 75 percent of Americans would have foot problems? "I've heard the number before, but we have no idea where it came from," Haer said. "Probably some survey."

Footnote: Kasdan's caution to gardeners subsequently showed up in a Chicago Sun-Times column.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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