Social Indicators Research

, Volume 114, Issue 3, pp 785–801

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


  • David G. Blanchflower
    • Department of EconomicsDartmouth College
    • IZA Institute
    • Department of Economics and CAGE CentreUniversity of Warwick
  • Sarah Stewart-Brown
    • Warwick Medical SchoolUniversity of Warwick

DOI: 10.1007/s11205-012-0173-y

Cite this article as:
Blanchflower, D.G., Oswald, A.J. & Stewart-Brown, S. Soc Indic Res (2013) 114: 785. doi:10.1007/s11205-012-0173-y


Little is known about the influence of people’s diet on their psychological well-being. This study provides evidence 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. 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). The pattern is robust to adjustment for a large number of other demographic, social and economic variables. 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.


Subjective well-beingHealthy foodGHQDietMental healthDepressionHappinessWEMWBS

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012