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Body image and food disorders: Evidence from a sample of European women

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  • Joan Costa i Font
  • Mireia Jofre-Bonet

Abstract

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 ’self-image’ and others’ appearances influence health related behaviours. We estimate the influence of ’peers’ image’ 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 peers’ 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 peers’ 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Joan Costa i Font & Mireia Jofre-Bonet, 2008. "Body image and food disorders: Evidence from a sample of European women," Working Papers 2008-30, FEDEA.
  • Handle: RePEc:fda:fdaddt:2008-30
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & José A. Scheinkman, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-548.
    2. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    3. Clark, Andrew E. & Loheac, Youenn, 2007. ""It wasn't me, it was them!" Social influence in risky behavior by adolescents," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 763-784, July.
    4. Trogdon, Justin G. & Nonnemaker, James & Pais, Joanne, 2008. "Peer effects in adolescent overweight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1388-1399, September.
    5. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
    6. William H. Greene, 1998. "Gender Economics Courses in Liberal Arts Colleges: Further Results," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 291-300, January.
    7. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher S. Ruebeck, 2003. "The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race," NBER Working Papers 9962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    9. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-493, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lombardini-Riipinen, Chiara & Lankoski, Leena, 2010. "Take off the heater: Utility effect and food environment effect in food consumption decisions," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116431, European Association of Agricultural Economists;Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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