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
  • Andrew J. Oswald
  • Sarah Stewart-Brown


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-being Healthy food GHQ Diet Mental health Depression Happiness WEMWBS 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David G. Blanchflower
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Oswald
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sarah Stewart-Brown
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  2. 2.IZA InstituteBonnGermany
  3. 3.Department of Economics and CAGE CentreUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  4. 4.Warwick Medical SchoolUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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