Body Image and Food Disorders: Evidence from a Sample of European Women
27 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2008
Date Written: September 2008
Excessive preoccupation with 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, 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 oneself as being too fat. Although peers' Body Mass Index decreases the likelihood of being very thin but increases that of seeing oneself as too fat, the unobservables explaining both processes are significantly correlated.
Keywords: self-image, identity, body image, eating disorders, anorexia
JEL Classification: I12, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation