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Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?

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  • David G. Blanchflower
  • Andrew J. Oswald
  • Sarah Stewart-Brown

Abstract

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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18469.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Publication status: published as David Blanchflower & Andrew Oswald & Sarah Stewart-Brown, 2013. "Is Psychological Well-Being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 785-801, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18469

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  1. Shields, Michael A. & Wheatley Price, Stephen, 2001. "Exploring the Economic and Social Determinants of Psychological and Psychosocial Health," IZA Discussion Papers, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) 396, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. International Happiness
    by David Stern in Stochastic Trend on 2013-02-17 03:11:00
  2. Vegetable Consumption and Life Satisfaction
    by UDADISI in UDADISI on 2012-11-10 21:24:00
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Cited by:
  1. Piper, Alan, 2013. "A Note on Modelling Dynamics in Happiness Estimations," MPRA Paper, University Library of Munich, Germany 49364, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Piper, Alan T., 2013. "Europe’s capital cities and the happiness penalty: an investigation using the European Social Survey," MPRA Paper, University Library of Munich, Germany 47793, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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