Healthy lifestyles linked to extra schooling

by Nattavudh (Nick) Powdthavee

Staying in school for longer increases a person's chance of leading a healthy life, a University of Melbourne study has determined.

Researchers Professor Nattavudh Powdthavee and Dr Jinhu Li analysed what affect an additional 12 months schooling had on a person's diet, exercise and .

"The influence was rather substantial," said Professor Powdthavee, from the University's Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

"An extra year of education increased the likelihood a person will lead a by about 17 per cent, compared to an ."

However, it remains unclear exactly why this is the case. One theory is that higher educated people often go on to earn more money and can afford more quality foods and fitness activities.

The analysis was done using data from the annual HILDA Survey, a that's tracked the life experiences of thousands of Australian households since 2001.

HILDA responses gave researchers data on how often Australians consumed fruit, vegetables or fatty foods, and how often they engage in exercise, binge drinking and smoking cigarettes.

A change in minimum schooling requirements in some states allowed researchers to measure the difference an extra year can make.

Past studies have noted a link between education and a healthy lifestyle, but this is one of the first Australian studies to demonstrate a causal link.

"We're not just saying educated Australians lead healthier lives, we're saying they do so because of their level of education," Professor Powdthavee said.

The research report—Does Increasing Schooling Improve Later Health Habits? Evidence from the School Reforms in Australia—also demonstrated that increased schooling raised an individuals' perceived sense of control over their life.

"People who remained in school for longer tended to be conscientious individuals or individuals who have a higher perceived sense of control over their ," according to Professor Powdthavee

"This applies for both men and women."

More information: "Does Increasing Schooling Improve Later Health Habits? Evidence from the School Reforms in Australia." Jinhu Li and Nattavudh Powdthavee. Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, January 2014. ISSN 1447-5863

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

2013 HILDA report sounds the alarm on child poverty

Jun 12, 2013

Australian children under the care of just one parent are three times more likely than other children to live in poverty, new data from Australia's most comprehensive household survey has revealed.

Positive mindset influences health decisions

Jan 17, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—An analysis of the personality types, diet and exercise habits of more than 7,000 people has shown that a positive attitude, and the belief that you can determine your life's outcomes, leads people to make ...

How Australia survived the global financial crisis unscathed

Jul 10, 2012

A detailed picture of how Australia coped during the global financial crisis has been provided by the latest report from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, produced by the Melbourne Institute ...

Recommended for you

Older adults are at risk of financial abuse

17 minutes ago

Nearly one in every twenty elderly American adults is being financially exploited – often by their own family members. This burgeoning public health crisis especially affects poor and black people. It merits the scrutiny ...

Medical internet could transform health care

27 minutes ago

The medical Internet is not yet here, but the widespread availability of electronic medical records and enhanced data-storage capabilities are pushing it closer to reality. As now envisioned, this new cyberspace ...

Better care for transgender youth

1 hour ago

A fact sheet on ways to improve the wellbeing of transgender youth in New Zealand has been developed at the University of Auckland.

Experts highlight big gaps in healthy food policies

1 hour ago

Healthy food policies to promote childhood health and reduce obesity are lacking, according to a report highlighting the policy priorities assessed by an expert panel of more than 50 New Zealand public health professionals, ...

User comments