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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bernard Fortin & Myra Yazbeck, 2011. "Peer Effects, Fast Food Consumption and Adolescent Weight Gain," CIRANO Working Papers 2011s-20, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2011s-20

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2017. "Gender and Peer Effects on Performance in Social Networks," Working Papers halshs-00855047, HAL.
    2. Apouey, Bénédicte H. & Geoffard, Pierre-Yves, 2016. "Parents’ education and child body weight in France: The trajectory of the gradient in the early years," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 70-89.
    3. Beugnot, Julie & Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2017. "Gender and Peer Effects in Social Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 10588, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Rokhaya Dieye & Bernard Fortin, 2017. "Gender Peer Effects Heterogeneity in Obesity," CIRANO Working Papers 2017s-03, CIRANO.
    5. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2017. "Gender and Peer Effects in Social Networks," Working Papers 2017-03, CRESE.
    6. Mohamed Amara & AbdelRahmen El Lahga, 2015. "A note on MAR and Jacobs externalities in the Tunisian manufacturing industries," Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 151-167, July.
    7. Gioia De Melo, 2011. "Peer effects identified through social networks. Evidence from Uruguayan schools," Department of Economics University of Siena 627, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    8. 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.
    9. Vincent Boucher & Bernard Fortin, 2015. "Some Challenges in the Empirics of the Effects of Networks," Cahiers de recherche 1504, CIRPEE.
    10. Norris, Jonathan, 2017. "Family and Peer Social Identity Effects on Schooling Attitudes and Performance," UNCG Economics Working Papers 17-1, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
    11. Lin, Xu & Weinberg, Bruce A., 2014. "Unrequited friendship? How reciprocity mediates adolescent peer effects," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 144-153.
    12. Kim, Hyeyoung & House, Lisa A., 2016. "Societal Context and Its Impact on Demand for New Products: the case of grapefruit in South Korea," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235512, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    13. Amara Mohamed, 2014. "Gibrat's Law and peer group effect: the case of Tunisian small manufacturing companies," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(1), pages 373-384.
    14. Xu Lin, 2014. "Network attributes and peer effects," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(3), pages 2060-2079.
    15. Olivier Bargain & Jinan Zeidan, 2014. "The Direct Effect of Obesity on Emotional Well-Being: Evidence from Mexico," AMSE Working Papers 1432, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised 16 Jul 2014.
    16. Luisa Corrado & Roberta Distante, 2012. "Eating Behavior and Social Interactions from Adolescence to Adulthood," Discussion Papers 12-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    17. Chih-Sheng Hsieh & Hans van Kippersluis, 2015. "Smoking Initiation: Peers and Personality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 15-093/V, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item


    Obesity; overweight; peer effects; social interactions; fast food; spatial models.; Obésité; embompoint; effets de pair; malbouffe; réseaux sociaux; modèle autorégressif spatial;

    JEL classification:

    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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