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Education and health

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In spite of rapid increases in life expectancy, OECD countries remain concerned about the deterioration in lifestyle habits and the sharp rise in chronic health problems. Can education play a role in addressing these health challenges? The literature suggests that education can help improve health by raising cognitive and socio‐emotional skills and developing health related habits and attitudes. There is significant scope for education to improve children's health, but can it fulfil this role in isolation? Evidence suggests that essential cognitive and socio‐emotional skills can be most effectively developed in the family environment during early childhood. With a strong start, children are better able to capitalise on their school experience. Community environment can also complement the efforts made in school and the family. To ensure the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of education's contribution to health, it is critical for schools to focus on enhancing what works, addressing what does not, and ensuring that the family and community environments are in harmony with school initiatives. Policy makers can support this by promoting policy coherence across sectors and stages of education.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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