Peer Effects, Fast Food Consumption and Adolescent Weight Gain

Posted: 14 Feb 2011

See all articles by Bernard Fortin

Bernard Fortin

Université Laval - Département d'Économique; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Myra Yazbeck

Université Laval - Département d'Économique

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 11, 2011

Abstract

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 effects partly flow through the eating habits channel. Adolescents are assumed to interact through a friendship social network. We first propose a social interaction model of fast food consumption using a generalized spatial autoregressive approach. We exploit results by Bramoullé, Djebbari and Fortin (2009) which show that intransitive links within a network (i.e., a friend of one of my friends is not my friend) help identify peer effects. The model is estimated using maximum likelihood and generalized 2SLS strategies. We also estimate a panel dynamic weight gain production function relating an adolescent’s Body Mass Index (BMI) to his current fast food consumption and his lagged BMI level. Results show that there are positive significant peer effects in fast food consumption among adolescents belonging to a same friendship school network. The estimated social multiplier is 1.59. Our results also suggest that, at the network level, an extra day of weekly fast food restaurant visits increases BMI by 2.4%, when peer effects are taken into account.

Keywords: Obesity, overweight, peer effects, social interactions, fast food, spatial models

JEL Classification: C31, I10, I12

Suggested Citation

Fortin, Bernard and Yazbeck, Myra, Peer Effects, Fast Food Consumption and Adolescent Weight Gain (February 11, 2011). CIRANO - Scientific Publications 2011s-20, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1759978 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1759978

Bernard Fortin (Contact Author)

Université Laval - Département d'Économique ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Myra Yazbeck

Université Laval - Département d'Économique ( email )

2325 Rue de l'Université
Ste-Foy, Quebec G1K 7P4 G1K 7P4
Canada

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