Studies say: real friends matter, and the rich pollute

Our semi-regular roundup of findings from the world of academia

British Columbia: Being richer doesn’t always mean eating better. A new study out of the University of British Columbia found those living in Vancouver’s wealthiest neighbourhoods have the least accessibility to healthy, fresh food. As incomes rise, so does the average distance to food stores—which is the opposite of the situation in some U.S. cities, where many low-income areas are considered “food deserts.”

Alberta: Jimmy Kimmel recently pressed his audience to delete people from Facebook and focus on flesh-and-blood friends. The late-night TV host may be on to something. A University of Alberta study found that people with strong, real-world social lives are less stressed and better able to raise their kids, even when mired in financial hardship.

Manitoba: Even though the province has some of the highest obesity rates in the country, a recent University of Manitoba study found that obese people don’t significantly weigh down the provincial health system until they display “the very highest” body mass indexes. Even then, hospital visits and the taking of prescription drugs only increase by about 15 per cent. As the lead author put it, rising obesity is going to be “a bit of a burden, but it’s not going to be an avalanche.”

Ontario: Accused of insatiable greed and unjust political influence, the one per cent is also charged with over-contributing to global warming. A recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that the richest one per cent of households are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions three times higher than the national average, and six times higher than the poorest 10 per cent.

Quebec: A researcher at McGill University found a correlation between children’s ability to fib and the harshness with which they’re disciplined at school. When two groups of three- and four-year-olds from the same neighbourhood were compared, those in the more punitive atmosphere showed they could lie more convincingly.


Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.