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Social norms, ideal body weight and food attitudes

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  • Fabrice Etilé

Abstract

This paper uses French data on ideal body weight and food attitudes to analyse the role of social norms in the individual's weight control problem. A proxy measure of social norms is calculated by averaging individual perceptions of the ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) over all observations within a reference group. Testing for different definitions of the reference group, we find that individual representations of ideal body shape are differentiated mainly along gender and age lines. Social norms regarding body shape have a significant effect on perceptions of ideal BMI only for those women who want to lose weight, with an elasticity close to 0.5. For many women and for all men, ideal BMI is almost exclusively determined by habitual BMI. Last, ideal BMI predicts a number of attitudes towards food, while social norms do not. These results suggest that promoting medical norms regarding body shape should have little effect on individual food attitudes. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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  • Fabrice Etilé, 2007. "Social norms, ideal body weight and food attitudes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(9), pages 945-966, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:16:y:2007:i:9:p:945-966
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.1251
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    1. L. Pieroni & D. Lanari & L. Salmasi, 2013. "Food prices and overweight patterns in Italy," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 14(1), pages 133-151, February.
    2. Clark, Andrew E. & Etilé, Fabrice, 2011. "Happy house: Spousal weight and individual well-being," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1124-1136.
    3. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald & Bert Van Landeghem, 2009. "Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 528-538, 04-05.
    4. Byela Tibesigwa & Martine Visser & Brennan Hodkinson, 2016. "Effects of Objective and Subjective Income Comparisons on Subjective Wellbeing," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 361-389, August.
    5. Gil, Joan & Mora, Toni, 2011. "The determinants of misreporting weight and height: The role of social norms," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 78-91, January.
    6. Caroli, Eve & Weber-Baghdiguian, Lexane, 2016. "Self-reported health and gender: The role of social norms," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 220-229.
    7. Strulik, Holger, 2014. "A mass phenomenon: The social evolution of obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 113-125.
    8. 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.
    9. Luis Fernando Gamboa & Nohora Y. Forero Ramírez, 2009. "Body mass index as a standard of living measure: a different interpretation for the case of Colombia," Documentos de Trabajo 005218, Universidad del Rosario.
    10. Liam Delaney & Arie Kapteyn & James Smith, 2013. "Why do some Irish drink so much? Family, historical and regional effects on students’ alcohol consumption and subjective normative thresholds," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 1-27, March.
    11. Kavetsos, Georgios, 2011. "The impact of physical activity on employment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 775-779.
    12. Radwan, Amr & Gil, Jose M., 2015. "Can Price Intervention Policies Improve Diet Quality in Spain?," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212698, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    13. Costa-Font, Joan & Jofre-Bonet, Mireia, 2011. "Anorexia, body image and peer effects: evidence from a sample of European women (discussion paper)," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 46701, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    14. Dragone, Davide & Savorelli, Luca, 2012. "Thinness and obesity: A model of food consumption, health concerns, and social pressure," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 243-256.
    15. Georgia S. Papoutsi & Andreas C. Drichoutis & Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr., 2013. "The Causes Of Childhood Obesity: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(4), pages 743-767, September.
    16. Etile, Fabrice, 2014. "Education policies and health inequalities: Evidence from changes in the distribution of Body Mass Index in France, 1981–2003," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 46-65.
    17. Dang, Rui, 2015. "Spillover effects of local human capital stock on adult obesity: Evidence from German neighborhoods," Ruhr Economic Papers 585, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    18. Robert S. Goldfarb & Thomas C. Leonard & Sara Markowitz & Steven Suranovic, 2009. "Can A Rational Choice Framework Make Sense of Anorexia Nervosa?," NBER Working Papers 14838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Ljungvall, Åsa, 2013. "The Freer the Fatter? A Panel Study of the Relationship between Body-Mass Index and Economic Freedom," Working Papers 2013:23, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    20. Stéphane Legleye & François Beck & Stanislas Spilka & Nearkasen Chau, 2014. "Correction of Body-Mass Index Using Body-Shape Perception and Socioeconomic Status in Adolescent Self-Report Surveys," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(5), pages 1-9, May.
    21. Maria Teresa Gorgitano & Ornella Wanda Maietta, 2015. "School Meals and Children Satisfaction. Evidence from Italian Primary Schools," CSEF Working Papers 405, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    22. Ryota Nakamura & Marc Suhrcke & Daniel John Zizzo, 2017. "A triple test for behavioral economics models and public health policy," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 83(4), pages 513-533, December.
    23. de Saint Pol, Thibaut, 2009. "Evolution of obesity by social status in France, 1981-2003," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 398-404, December.
    24. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10720 is not listed on IDEAS

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