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Extra Schooling Linked to Healthier Lifestyles

Update Date: Feb 03, 2014 04:27 PM EST

In order to lead an overall healthy lifestyle, people must learn what kinds of habits contribute to good and poor health. According to a new study out of the University of Melbourne in Australia, people who stay in school longer are more likely to lead healthier lives.

For this study, the research team composed of professor Nattavudh Powdthavee and Dr. Jinhu Li examined the relationship between schooling and an individual's diet, exercise and other health habits. The team borrowed the data from the annual HILDA Survey, which is a longitudinal study that monitored thousands of Australian households starting in 2001. The survey provided information on fruit, vegetable and fatty foods consumption rates. The survey also collected data on people's exercise levels, binge drinking and smoking.

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

The researchers reported that an extra 12 months of schooling increased a person's chances of leading a healthy lifestyle by 17 percent. The researchers stated that they could not identify why extra schooling results in a healthier lifestyle. However, they reasoned that people with higher education are more aware of what kinds of foods to put into their bodies. These people are also more likely to learn about different kinds of fitness activities.

"We're not just saying educated Australians lead healthier lives, we're saying they do so because of their level of education," Powdthavee said. "People who remained in school for longer tended to be conscientious individuals or individuals who have a higher perceived sense of control over their life."

The study, "Does Increasing Schooling Improve Later Health Habits? Evidence from the Schools Reforms in Australia," was published by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

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