The week in silly studies: People who live near bars drink more

People are lazy and don't want to travel far to have a drink.

This astounding revelation came after researchers in Finland followed almost 55,000 people for more than seven years to determine that people who live closer to bars drink more. That means about one per cent of the entire population of Finland took part in this massive study to confirm what many may think is common sense.

They learned when a person moves closer to a bar, the odds of them becoming a heavy drinker rises by 17 per cent. Male "heavy drinkers" consume seven or more drinks per week and females have five.

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The researchers suggest one reason may be because drinkers choose to live closer to bars, but they also found drinking increases when a bar starts up close to people's houses. The increase was modest, but lead researcher Jaana L. Halonen said to Reuters even a modest association is "notable."

The results held true across income levels even though people in lower-income brackets drink more.

When people live within only 120 metres of a bar, they have a nine per cent chance of being a heavy drinker. When they live within 2.4 kilometres they have a 7.5 per cent chance. The results are published in the journal Addiction.

Halonen says the risk of becoming a problem drinker depends on a range of factors, but she hopes restricting bar hours could curb locals drinking habits.

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Halonen doesn't know if the findings would apply to other countries.

"In the U.K. and Australia, heavy drinking is reported to be more common than Finland, whereas in the U.S.A. it is less common," said Halonen. "On the other hand, it is unlikely that easy access to a bar would affect drinking only among Finnish employees."

This makes sense to me, because when I used to be able to fall out of my bedroom window and land on a bar, I went fairly often. However, now that the closest bar is a block and a half away from me, I go far less. It just wouldn't surprise me to learn most people are the same about not wanting to walk long distances for a beer.

But if there is a country where it makes sense to do a study like this, it's Finland.

A 2006 study shows alcohol is the No. 1 cause of death in men and No. 2 in women.

L.A. Weekly writes, "There is nary a country in the world so completely soused in vodka and melancholy."

Canadians may be known for our affinity for beer and wine, but we don't consume very much compared to the average person in Europe and Russia.

With files from Reuters

(Reuters photo)

The week in silly studies is a feature that appears each Tuesday.
It is not intended to mock real science.

For all the latest in science and weather, follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter.

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