Thursday, March 08, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Noortje Uphoff writes about the long-term effects of growing up in poverty and the resulting stress on a child:
Our childhood affects our health across the course of our lives. Stress, it seems, is a major contributor. While a life lived with financial, educational and social security and stability may not be free of worries, a disadvantaged childhood means more exposure to a number of difficult circumstances and events. These may include social tensions, domestic abuse, neglect, food and fuel poverty, unsafe or poor quality housing, and separation from caregivers.

These life events understandably cause stress. Most of us will have personal experience of responding to pressure at work or a relationship breakdown with ice cream, cigarettes or alcohol, or giving the gym a miss. When facing financial troubles, the health benefits of vegetables can seem trivial to parents in the face of the time- and money-saving virtues of junk food. Feeling like you do not have enough food, money, time, or friends occupies the mind so that there is less space to focus on decisions with long-term pay-offs.

Experiencing these feelings over a long period of time (rather than the shorter-term stress experienced when applying for a job or studying for an exam) can make it increasingly difficult to make healthy choices. Over a lifetime, choices add up. But this latest research suggests that chronic stress impacts more than just our choices.
We already know that children suffering from long-term stress build up higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, making the body’s response to threats from the outside world change. Chronic stress in childhood is related to a host of diseases through mechanisms such as poorer mental health, changes in the body’s immune response to infection and injury, and increased blood pressure.

Now, we have evidence that growing up in poverty has a cumulative wear-and-tear effect on the physiological systems that govern how our bodies respond to our environment, permanently disrupting the ability of affected individuals to maintain good health in old age.
- Meanwhile, Angus Deaton explores the potential and pitfalls in basing policy on self-reported well-being.

- Andre Picard comments on the advantages of a national pharmacare system - as well as the obstacles we face in pursuing it.

- Andrew Jackson discusses the missed opportunities for more progressive revenue in the federal budget despite strong public demand to ensure the wealth pay their fair share. And Rachel Gilmore reports on Romeo Saganash's recognition that the Libs are still falling short of even basic fairness for Indigenous communities.

- Finally, Murray Mandryk points out that Scott Moe's plan to slash Saskatchewan's public service is unworkable based on his own government's track record.

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