The Wood-Fired Blog

Be Happy, Eat Fruits and Vegetables

This is something to be shared. From The Baseline Scenario, one of my favorite economics blogs, three economists have done scientific research that definitively correlates happiness with eating five to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day. They even control things that might mask the impact of just eating fruits and vegetables, such as education, health, religion, income, etc., and the veggie eating group is still happier. I think there is something fundamental in the human psyche that feels good about the act of eating right.

The paper, titled Is Psychological Well-Being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?, is published by NBER, the National Bureau of Economic Research. Here is the 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.

Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at www.nber.org.