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The determinants of misreporting weight and height: The role of social norms

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  • Gil, Joan
  • Mora, Toni

Abstract

Given the lack of availability of measured anthropometric data for the whole of Spain, this paper combines data from the 2006 Catalan Health and Health Examination Surveys to compute the size of weight and height self-reporting biases. The underlying determinants of these biases are then analyzed, placing special emphasis on the role played by social norms. Our findings show that social norms regarding "ideal" weight (proxied by the average weight of a reference group based on gender and age) tend to affect the self-reporting weight (relative) bias. This finding suggests that the more satisfied individuals feel with their own body image the less prone they are to under-report their weight, although this effect is contingent upon the definition of social norms and the correction of endogeneity. However, we found no evidence of a similar impact caused by the social norms governing height. The relationship found between the measured and self-reported anthropometric data was applied to the Spanish National Health Survey (NHS) so as to correct the self-reported information contained in it. After correcting for self-reporting errors, both the BMI and the prevalence of obesity were found to be significantly underestimated, with instances of misreporting being more prevalent among women.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 9 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 78-91

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:9:y:2011:i:1:p:78-91

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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Keywords: Self-reported weight Height and BMI Anthropometric biases Social norms Spain obesity;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Radwan, Amr & Gil, José M., 2014. "On the Nexus between Economic and Obesity Crisis in Spain: Parametric and Nonparametric Analysis of the Role of Economic Factors on Obesity Prevalence," 88th Annual Conference, April 9-11, 2014, AgroParisTech, Paris, France 170341, Agricultural Economics Society.
  2. Juan Oliva-Moreno & Ana Gil-Lacruz, 2013. "Body weight and health-related quality of life in Catalonia, Spain," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 95-105, February.
  3. Joan Costa-Font & Daniele Fabbri & Joan Gil, 2008. "Decomposing Body Mass Index Gaps Between Mediterranean Countries: A Counterfactual Quantile Regression Analysis," Working Papers 2008-11, FEDEA.
  4. Spijker, Jeroen J.A. & Cámara, Antonio D. & Blanes, Amand, 2012. "The health transition and biological living standards: Adult height and mortality in 20th-century Spain," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 276-288.
  5. Pieroni, L. & Salmasi, L., 2014. "Fast-food consumption and body weight. Evidence from the UK," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 94-105.
  6. Vincenzo Carrieri & Maria De Paola, 2011. "The Effects Of Peoples’ Height And Relative Height On Well-Being," Working Papers 201110, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza (Ex Dipartimento di Economia e Statistica).
  7. Mariano Bosch & Carlos Bozzoli & Climent Quintana, 2010. "The Evolution of Adult Height Across Spanish Regions 1950-1980: A New Source of Data," Working Papers 2010-01, FEDEA.
  8. Costa-Font, Joan & Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina & Jiménez-Rubio, Dolores, 2014. "Income inequalities in unhealthy life styles in England and Spain," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 66-75.
  9. Sunder, Marco, 2011. "Upward and onward: High-society American women eluded the antebellum puzzle," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 165-171, March.
  10. Carrieri, Vincenzo & De Paola, Maria, 2012. "Height and subjective well-being in Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 289-298.
  11. Ljungvall, Åsa & Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Lindblad, Ulf, 2012. "Misreporting and Misclassification: Implications for Socioeconomic Disparities in Body-mass Index and Obesity," Working Papers 2012:19, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  12. Sunder, Marco, 2013. "The height gap in 19th-century America: Net-nutritional advantage of the elite increased at the onset of modern economic growth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 245-258.
  13. Wen, Ming & Maloney, Thomas N., 2014. "Neighborhood socioeconomic status and BMI differences by immigrant and legal status: Evidence from Utah," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 120-131.

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