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The impact of health and health behaviours on educational outcomes in high-income countries (Europe)

April 7, 2011

The question of whether better health leads to a better education in the context of high-income countries is explored in a systematic review by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are studied as a part of child and adolescent health conditions, and are often associated with health-related behaviours.

Six studies were reviewed for evidence on the effect of mental health problems on education. Both anxiety and depression were associated with negative effects on educational outcomes. The authors noted a need for more research, particularly where there is a gap in longitudinal data which follow students over time. Considering the increasing incidence of mental health problems throughout industrialized countries, this research would be relevant and timely.

Other health conditions included in the study were sleeping disorders and asthma. The health-related behaviours reviewed were consumption of alcohol, drug use, smoking, nutritional deficiencies, obesity and physical activity. The study concluded that despite the limitations and gaps in evidence for the various areas, the results of the literature review show support for a causal link between the selected health behaviours and conditions, and education outcomes in high-income countries.

See “The Impact of Health and Health Behaviours on Educational Outcomes in High-Income Countries: A Review of the Evidence” World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. (2011), available atwww.euro.who.int/en.

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