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Peer Effects on Childhood Obesity from a Physical Activity and Dietary Intervention Program


  • Li, Yajuan
  • Palma, Marco
  • Towne, Samuel
  • Warren, Judith
  • Ory, Marcia


Objectives : The purpose of this research is to estimate peer effects on third grade students’ BMI and to investigate the social and physiological explanations for such effects. Methods : The BMI of students participating in a childhood obesity intervention program is used to assess peer effects on students’ BMI within the framework of identification of endogenous social effects. Two-stage instrumental variable models are applied using the data before and after the intervention program, and further peer effects are compared by gender and two BMI categorization groups: improvement versus non-improvement. Results : Strong peer effects are found for the overall sample, and for females and males in general. However, when classifying students into improvement versus non-improvement groups, the peer effect is only found among females who are categorized in the improvement group and males in the non-improvement group. Males are more likely to be influenced by their interactions with peer friends towards the direction of unhealthy behavior; females, on the contrary, are more likely to be influenced by interaction with peer friends towards the direction of healthy behavior. Conclusions : Peer effects are found for students aged 8-11, with gender differences in the psychological and social behavioral motivations.

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  • Li, Yajuan & Palma, Marco & Towne, Samuel & Warren, Judith & Ory, Marcia, 2016. "Peer Effects on Childhood Obesity from a Physical Activity and Dietary Intervention Program," 2016 Annual Meeting, February 6-9, 2016, San Antonio, Texas 229803, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:saea16:229803

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Fortin, Bernard & Yazbeck, Myra, 2015. "Peer effects, fast food consumption and adolescent weight gain," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 125-138.
    3. 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 122732, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Ryo Nakajima, 2007. "Measuring Peer Effects on Youth Smoking Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 897-935.
    5. Jebaraj Asirvatham & Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr. & Michael R. Thomsen, 2014. "Peer-Effects in Obesity among Public Elementary School Children: A Grade-Level Analysis," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 36(3), pages 438-459.
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    Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Health Economics and Policy;

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