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Weight Gain in Adolescents and Their Peers

  • Halliday, Timothy J.

    ()

    (University of Hawaii at Manoa)

  • Kwak, Sally

    ()

    (University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Despite the urgent public health implications, relatively little is yet known about the effect of peers on adolescent weight gain. We describe trends and features of adolescent BMI in a nationally representative dataset and document correlations in weight gain among peers. We find strong correlations between own body mass index (BMI) and peers’ BMI’s. Though the correlations are especially strong in the upper ends of the BMI distribution, the relationship is smooth and holds over almost the entire range of adolescent BMI. Furthermore, the results are robust to the inclusion of school fixed effects and basic controls for other confounding factors such as race, sex, and age. Some recent research in this area asks whether or not adolescent weight gain is caused by peers. We discuss the econometric difficulties in plausibly estimating such effects. Our results do not rule out the existence of these types of social network effects.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3610.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economics and Human Biology, 2010, 7 (2), 246-262
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3610
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  1. Subramanian, S. & Deaton, A., 1994. "The Demand for Food and Calories," Papers 175, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  2. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2008. "Peer Effects and Social Networks in Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 7060, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Deaton, Angus, 1995. "Data and econometric tools for development analysis," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 33, pages 1785-1882 Elsevier.
  4. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2002. "Maternal employment and overweight children," Working Paper Series WP-02-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. John Komlos & Ariane Breitfelder & Marco Sunder, 2008. "The Transition to Post-industrial BMI Values Among US Children," NBER Working Papers 13898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Fowler, J.H. & Christakis, N.A., 2008. "Estimating peer effects on health in social networks: A response to Cohen-Cole and Fletcher; and Trogdon, Nonnemaker, and Pais," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1400-1405, September.
  8. John Cawley, 2006. "Contingent Valuation Analysis of Willingness to Pay To Reduce Childhood Obesity," NBER Working Papers 12510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1994, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  11. Arcidiacono, Peter & Nicholson, Sean, 2005. "Peer effects in medical school," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 327-350, February.
  12. Alejandro Gaviria & Steven Raphael, 2001. "School-Based Peer Effects And Juvenile Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 257-268, May.
  13. Renna, Francesco & Grafova, Irina B. & Thakur, Nidhi, 2008. "The effect of friends on adolescent body weight," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 377-387, December.
  14. Cohen-Cole, Ethan & Fletcher, Jason M., 2008. "Is obesity contagious? Social networks vs. environmental factors in the obesity epidemic," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1382-1387, September.
  15. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2003. "Economic perspectives on childhood obesity," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q III, pages 30-48.
  16. Halliday, Timothy J. & Kwak, Sally, 2008. "What Is a Peer? The Role of Network Definitions in Estimation of Endogenous Peer Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 3335, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Angus S. Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1998. "Health, Income, and Inequality over the Life Cycle," NBER Chapters, in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 431-462 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
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