Body Image and Food Disorders: Evidence from a Sample of European Women
Excessive preoccupation for self-image has been pointed out as an essential factor explaining food disorders. This paper draws upon Akerlof and Kranton (2000) to model how â€™self-imageâ€™ and othersâ€™ appearances influence health related behaviours. We estimate the influence of â€™peersâ€™ imageâ€™ on the likelihood of anorexia and self-image using data from a cross sectional European representative survey for 2004. We follow a two-step empirical strategy. First, we estimate the probability that a woman is extremely thin and, at the same time, she sees herself as too fat. Our findings reveal that peersâ€™ average Body Mass Index decreases the likelihood of being anorexic. Second, we take apart the two processes and estimate a recursive probit model of being very thin and perceiving one self as being too fat. Although peersâ€™ Body Mass Index decreases the likelihood of being very thin but increases that of seeing one self as too fat, the unobservables explaining both processes are significantly correlated.
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