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Peer Effects, Fast Food Consumption and Adolescent Weight Gain


  • Fortin, Bernard

    () (Université Laval)

  • Yazbeck, Myra

    () (University of Queensland)


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 partly flow through the eating habits channel. Adolescents are assumed to interact through a friendship social network. We propose a two-equation model. The first equation provides a social interaction model of fast food consumption. To estimate this equation we use a quasi maximum likelihood approach that allows us to control for common environment at the network level and to solve the simultaneity (reflection) problem. Our second equation is a panel dynamic weight production function relating an individual's Body Mass Index z-score (zBMI) to his fast food consumption and his lagged zBMI, and allowing for irregular intervals in the data. Results show that there are positive but small peer effects in fast food consumption among adolescents belonging to a same friendship school network. Based on our preferred specification, the estimated social multiplier is 1.15. Our results also suggest that, in the long run, an extra day of weekly fast food restaurant visits increases zBMI by 4.45% when ignoring peer effects and by 5.11%, when they are taken into account.

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  • Fortin, Bernard & Yazbeck, Myra, 2015. "Peer Effects, Fast Food Consumption and Adolescent Weight Gain," IZA Discussion Papers 9087, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9087

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    Cited by:

    1. 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).
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Rokhaya Dieye & Bernard Fortin, 2017. "Gender Peer Effects Heterogeneity in Obesity," Cahiers de recherche 1702, Centre de recherche sur les risques, les enjeux économiques, et les politiques publiques.
    8. Luisa Corrado & Roberta Distante, 2012. "Eating Behavior and Social Interactions from Adolescence to Adulthood," Discussion Papers 12-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    9. Boucher, Vincent & Fortin, Bernard, 2015. "Some Challenges in the Empirics of the Effects of Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 8896, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie Claire Villeval, 2017. "Gender and Peer Effects on Performance in Social Networks," Working Papers 1711, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    11. Julie Beugnot & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2017. "Gender and Peer Effects in Social Networks," Working Papers 2017-03, CRESE.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. Xu Lin, 2014. "Network attributes and peer effects," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(3), pages 2060-2079.
    16. 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.
    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


    fast food; social interactions; peer effects; overweight; obesity; spatial models;

    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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