Is Psychological Well-Being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?
David G. Blanchflower
Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics
Andrew J. Oswald
University of Warwick - Department of Economics; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
Warwick Medical School
NBER Working Paper No. w18469
Humans run on a fuel called food. Yet economists and other social scientists rarely study what people eat. We provide simple evidence consistent with the existence of a link between the consumption of fruit and vegetables and high well-being. In cross-sectional data, happiness and mental health rise in an approximately dose-response way with the number of daily portions of fruit and vegetables. The pattern is remarkably robust to adjustment for a large number of other demographic, social and economic variables. Well-being peaks at approximately 7 portions per day. We document this relationship in three data sets, covering approximately 80,000 randomly selected British individuals, and for seven measures of well-being (life satisfaction, WEMWBS mental well-being, GHQ mental disorders, self-reported health, happiness, nervousness, and feeling low). Reverse causality and problems of confounding remain possible. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our analysis, how government policy-makers might wish to react to it, and what kinds of further research -- especially randomized trials -- would be valuable.
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Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Date posted: October 20, 2012
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