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

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Stewart-Brown, Sarah, 2012. "Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 996, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:996
    as

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    File URL: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2012/twerp_996.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
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    3. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Is well-being U-shaped over the life cycle?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1733-1749, April.
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    5. Blanchflower, David G; Oswald, Andrew, 2011. "International Happiness," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 39, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
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    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Carol Graham, 2005. "Insights on Development from the Economics of Happiness," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(2), pages 201-231.
    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. 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.
    13. 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.
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    15. Cathy Farnworth, 2009. "Well-Being is a Process of Becoming: Respondent-Led Research With Organic Farmers in Madagascar," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 90(1), pages 89-106, January.
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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 09:11:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Lalji, Chitwan & Pakrashi, Debayan & Smyth, Russell, 2018. "Can eating five fruit and veg a day really keep the doctor away?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 320-330.
    2. Alan Piper, 2015. "Europe’s Capital Cities and the Happiness Penalty: An Investigation Using the European Social Survey," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 103-126, August.
    3. Marianne Bernatzky & José María Cabrera & Alejandro Cid, "undated". "Regular Information and Health: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Undergraduate Students," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1501, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
    4. Gschwandtner, Adelina & Jewell, Sarah L. & Kambhampati, Uma, 2015. "On the Relationship between Lifestyle and Happiness in the UK," 89th Annual Conference, April 13-15, 2015, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 204199, Agricultural Economics Society.
    5. Huffman, Sonya & Rizov, Marian, 2016. "Life Satisfaction and Diet: Evidence from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235148, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Rocío Moreno-Sánchez & Vanesa Martínez & Jorge H. Maldonado & Arturo Rodríguez, 2017. "Cambios en bienestar subjetivo, aspiraciones y expectativas en participantes de programas de alivio a la pobreza: un análisis cualitativo de Produciendo por mi futuro en Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015818, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    7. Booker, Cara L. & Pudney, Stephen, 2013. "In sickness and in health? Comorbidity in older couples," ISER Working Paper Series 2013-30, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    8. Mujcic, Redzo, 2014. "Are fruit and vegetables good for our mental and physical health? Panel data evidence from Australia," MPRA Paper 59149, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Alex Bryson & John Forth & Lucy Stokes, 2015. "Does Worker Wellbeing Affect Workplace Performance?," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 447, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    10. Piper, Alan, 2013. "A Note on Modelling Dynamics in Happiness Estimations," MPRA Paper 49364, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Rafael Moreira Claro & Vargas Hernandez & Joel Alberto & Satoru Shimokawa & Euna Han & Sharada Keats & Steve Wiggins, 2015. "The Rising Cost of a Healthy Diet – Changing Relative prices of Foods in High- Income and Emerging Economies," Working Papers id:7250, eSocialSciences.
    12. De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel & Diener, Ed & Tay, Louis & Xuereb, Cody, 2013. "The objective benefits of subjective well-being," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51669, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    13. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & Ed Diener & Louis Tay & Cody Xuereb, 2013. "The Objective Benefits of Subjective Well-Being," CEP Discussion Papers dp1236, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    14. Radek Janhuba, 2016. "Do Victories and Losses Matter? Effects of Football on Life Satisfaction," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp579, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    15. Bernatzky, Marianne & Cabrera, José María & Cid, Alejandro, 2015. "Regular Information and Health: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Undergraduate Students," MPRA Paper 84618, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9749-6 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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