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Peer-Effects on Childhood Obesity

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  • Asirvatham, Jebaraj
  • Nayga, Rodolfo M. Jr.
  • Thomsen, Michael R.

Abstract

This study investigates whether peers are a contributing factor in the increase in childhood obesity rates, and whether peer effects vary by race, gender and residential neighborhood. We control for the commercial food environment around schools and residence when estimating peer effects given that the food environment constitutes an important set of factors that have not been adequately measured and accounted for in previous studies. We find that the weight of peers within the same grade in a school significantly impacts body mass index (BMI) z-score of an individual student. A typical student’s BMI z-score increases when facing heavier peers and it decreases when facing lighter peers. The results show differential peer-effects across race and gender, but more so by gender than by race.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. with number 150417.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:150417

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Keywords: peer-effects; obesity; overweight; childhood obesity; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Health Economics and Policy; D10; D71; I10; Z13;

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  1. Scott E. Carrell & Mark Hoekstra & James E. West, 2010. "Is Poor Fitness Contagious? Evidence from Randomly Assigned Friends," NBER Working Papers 16518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Trogdon, Justin G. & Nonnemaker, James & Pais, Joanne, 2008. "Peer effects in adolescent overweight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1388-1399, September.
  3. Yakusheva, Olga & Kapinos, Kandice & Weiss, Marianne, 2011. "Peer effects and the Freshman 15: Evidence from a natural experiment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 119-132, March.
  4. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. repec:att:wimass:9127 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Halliday, Timothy J. & Kwak, Sally, 2008. "Weight Gain in Adolescents and Their Peers," IZA Discussion Papers 3610, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Jason Fletcher, 2012. "Peer influences on adolescent alcohol consumption: evidence using an instrumental variables/fixed effect approach," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 1265-1286, October.
  8. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  9. Asirvatham, Jebaraj & Nayga, Rodolfo M., Jr. & Thomsen, Michael R., 2012. "Peer-Effects In Obesity Among Public School Children: A Grade-Level Analysis," 2012 AAEA/EAAE Food Environment Symposium, May 30-31, Boston, MA 122732, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
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