The effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on well-being: a causal analysis
Rui Leite – CEF.UP (joint with Li-Wei Chao, Ana Rita Farias, Helena Szrek, Shandir Ramlagan, and Karl Peltzer)
Fruit and vegetable consumption has been associated with reductions in mortality and better physical health, and various countries and the World Health Organization recommend a daily consumption of 5 or more servings. Recently, fruit and vegetable consumption has also been linked to better mental health and well-being. Most of the studies document a cross-sectional relationship, and a few studies control for fixed effects using longitudinal data, but nevertheless the authors caution against a causal interpretation of the results. In our study, we use longitudinal data from a survey conducted in South Africa and apply instrumental variable estimation to examine this relationship. We use three distinct instruments that are plausibly linked to fruit and vegetable consumption (time preference, ownership of a business that sells fruit or vegetable, and the CPI of fruit) and find that increased fruit and vegetable consumption is causally associated with higher self-reported life satisfaction and lower perceived stress.
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