Body Image and Food Disorders: Evidence from a Sample of European Women

27 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2008

See all articles by Joan Costa-Font

Joan Costa-Font

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Mireia Jofre-Bonet

City University London - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 2008

Abstract

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

Costa-Font, Joan and Jofre-Bonet, Mireia, Body Image and Food Disorders: Evidence from a Sample of European Women (September 2008). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2412. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1277108

Joan Costa-Font (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://joancostaifont.org/

Mireia Jofre-Bonet

City University London - Department of Economics ( email )

Northampton Square
London, EC1V 0HB
United Kingdom

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