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Peer Effects, Fast Food Consumption and Adolescent Weight Gain

  • Bernard Fortin
  • Myra Yazbeck

This paper aims at opening the black box of peer effects in adolescent weight gain. Using Add Health data on secondary schools in the U.S., we investigate whether these effects partly flow through the eating habits channel. Adolescents are assumed to interact through a friendship social network. We first propose a social interaction model of fast food consumption using a generalized spatial autoregressive approach. We exploit results by Bramoullé, Djebbari and Fortin (2009) which show that intransitive links within a network (i.e., a friend of one of my friends is not my friend) help identify peer effects. The model is estimated using maximum likelihood and generalized 2SLS strategies. We also estimate a panel dynamic weight gain production function relating an adolescent's Body Mass Index (BMI) to his current fast food consumption and his lagged BMI level. Results show that there are positive significant peer effects in fast food consumption among adolescents belonging to a same friendship school network. The estimated social multiplier is 1.59. Our results also suggest that, at the network level, an extra day of weekly fast food restaurant visits increases BMI by 2.4%, when peer effects are taken into account. Cet article a pour but d'ouvrir la boîte noire des effets de pairs dans les gains de poids chez les adolescents. À partir des données Add Health sur les écoles secondaires aux États-Unis, nous étudions si ces effets découlent en partie des habitudes alimentaires. On suppose que les adolescents interagissent dans le cadre d'un réseau social d'amitié. Nous proposons une analyse des interactions sociales de consommation de malbouffe à l'aide d'un modèle autorégressif spatial généralisé. Nous exploitons les résultats de Bramoullé, Djebbari et Fortin (2009) qui montrent que les liens intransitifs à l'intérieur d'un réseau (i.e., un ami d'un de mes amis n'est pas mon ami) aide à l'identification des effets de pairs. Le modèle est estimé à partir de méthodes de maximum de vraisemblance et de variables instrumentales généralisées. Nous estimons en outre une fonction dynamique de gain de poids reliant l'indice de masse corporelle de l'adolescent (IMC) à sa consommation courante de malbouffe et à son niveau retardée d'IMC. Nos résultats montrent qu'il existe des effets de pairs positifs et significatifs dans la consommation de malbouffe parmi les adolescents appartenant au même réseau d'amis de l'école. Le multiplicateur social est de 1,59. Nos résultats suggèrent de plus qu'au niveau du réseau social, une journée additionnelle de consommation hebdomadaire dans un restaurant de malbouffe augmente l'IMC de 2,4 %, lorsque les effets de pairs sont pris en compte.

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File URL: http://www.cirano.qc.ca/files/publications/2011s-20.pdf
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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 2011s-20.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 01 Feb 2011
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2011s-20
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