The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive disruption to education, which is likely to have lasting effects on the health of everyone involved.
The National Audit Office reported that just 1% of Covid support funding went to the education sector.
Investing in education, researchers say, will do more to improve health care than the same investment in health care.
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, researchers investigated how education and health interact.
Problems in either can cause lasting harm to the other.
It can be as varied as child malnutrition leading to a poorer quality of life 40 years later, or sleep disorders linked to poorer academic achievement.
Investments in one, such as improving physical health, have additional positive effects by improving grades.
Dr Anant Jani, from the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the greatest disruption ever to education systems around the world.
“Simulations suggest that around 0.6 years of schooling will be lost globally due to school closures, with higher levels for children from lower socioeconomic groups, who have been historically disadvantaged due to reduced access to high quality education.”
They cite research showing that each additional year of schooling a person receives is linked to a 6.85% reduction in health problems.
Another issue raised is the rates of over-prescribing and over-diagnosis in our healthcare sector.
It’s about giving people drugs they don’t need or want with minimal or negative health benefits, as well as diagnosing and treating conditions that don’t cause symptoms or do not harm a person.
Researchers argue that spending in these areas would have greater health returns if invested in areas of education that would improve the prevention of many diseases linked to poor understanding of health.