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The effect of friend selection on social influences in obesity

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  • Trogdon, Justin G.
  • Allaire, Benjamin T.

Abstract

We present an agent-based model of weight choice and peer selection that simulates the effect of peer selection on social multipliers for weight loss interventions. The model generates social clustering around weight through two mechanisms: a causal link from others’ weight to an individual's weight and the propensity to select peers based on weight. We simulated weight loss interventions and tried to identify intervention targets that maximized the spillover of weight loss from intervention participants to nonparticipants. Social multipliers increase with the number of intervention participants’ friends. For example, when friend selection was based on a variable exogenous to weight, the weight lost among non-participants increased by 23% (14.3lb vs. 11.6lb) when targeting the most popular obese. Holding constant the number of participants’ friends, multipliers increase with increased weight clustering due to selection, up to a point. For example, among the most popular obese, social multipliers when matching on a characteristic correlated with weight (1.189) were higher than when matching on the exogenous characteristic (1.168) and when matching on weight (1.180). Increased weight clustering also implies more obese “friends of friends” of participants, who reduce social multipliers.

Suggested Citation

  • Trogdon, Justin G. & Allaire, Benjamin T., 2014. "The effect of friend selection on social influences in obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 153-164.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:15:y:2014:i:c:p:153-164
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2014.08.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fiorillo, Damiano & Sabatini, Fabio, 2015. "Structural social capital and health in Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 129-142.
    2. Greve, Jane & Heinesen, Eskil, 2015. "Evaluating the impact of a school-based health intervention using a randomized field experiment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 41-56.
    3. Barbieri, Paolo Nicola, 2015. "Social Distortion in Weight Perception: A Decomposition of the Obesity Epidemic," Working Papers in Economics 639, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    4. repec:spr:italej:v:4:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s40797-018-0080-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gwozdz, Wencke & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso & Reisch, Lucia A. & Bammann, Karin & Eiben, Gabriele & Kourides, Yiannis & Kovács, Éva & Lauria, Fabio & Konstabel, Kenn & Santaliestra-Pasias, Alba M. & Vyncke, , 2015. "Peer effects on obesity in a sample of European children," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 139-152.
    6. McKennie, Caitlin & Argys, Laura M. & Friedson, Andrew I., 2018. "Is Good Health Contagious? The Impact of BMI Environment on Individual BMI," IZA Discussion Papers 11770, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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