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

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Author Info

  • Blanchflower, David G.

    (Dartmouth College USA)

  • Oswald, Andrew J.

    (University of Warwick and CAGE UK and IZA Germany)

  • Stewart-Brown, Sarah

    (Warwick Medical School UK)

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 University of Warwick, Department of Economics in its series The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) with number 996.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:996

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Keywords: Subjective well-being ; healthy food ; GHQ; diet ; mental health ; depression ; happiness ; WEMWBS.;

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References

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  1. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2011. "International Happiness," NBER Working Papers 16668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  3. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Is Well-being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 826, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. Shields, Michael A. & Wheatley Price, Stephen, 2001. "Exploring the Economic and Social Determinants of Psychological and Psychosocial Health," IZA Discussion Papers 396, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Carol Propper & Kelvyn Jones & Anne Bolster & Simon Burgess & Ron Johnston & Rebecca Sarker, 2004. "Local Neighbourhood and Mental Health: Evidence from the UK," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 04/099, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  6. Dhaval M. Dave & Inas Rashad Kelly, 2010. "How Does the Business Cycle Affect Eating Habits?," NBER Working Papers 16638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Cathy Farnworth, 2009. "Well-Being is a Process of Becoming: Respondent-Led Research With Organic Farmers in Madagascar," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 90(1), pages 89-106, January.
  8. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  9. Ed Diener, 1994. "Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 103-157, February.
  10. Carter, Kristie N. & Kruse, Kerri & Blakely, Tony & Collings, Sunny, 2011. "The association of food security with psychological distress in New Zealand and any gender differences," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(9), pages 1463-1471, May.
  11. Shelton, Nicola Jane, 2009. "Regional risk factors for health inequalities in Scotland and England and the "Scottish effect"," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(5), pages 761-767, September.
  12. Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2009. "What happens to people before and after disability? Focusing effects, lead effects, and adaptation in different areas of life," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(12), pages 1834-1844, December.
  13. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
  14. Michael A. Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price, 2005. "Exploring the economic and social determinants of psychological well-being and perceived social support in England," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 168(3), pages 513-537.
  15. Carol Graham, 2005. "Insights on Development from the Economics of Happiness," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(2), pages 201-231.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Vegetable Consumption and Life Satisfaction
    by UDADISI in UDADISI on 2012-11-10 21:24:00
  2. International Happiness
    by David Stern in Stochastic Trend on 2013-02-17 03:11:00
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Cited by:
  1. Piper, Alan, 2013. "A Note on Modelling Dynamics in Happiness Estimations," MPRA Paper 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 47793, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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