Obesity is Contagious! Evidence from US Data

9 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2012

See all articles by Luisa Corrado

Luisa Corrado

University of Rome Tor Vergata Department of Economics and Finance

Roberta Distante

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 29, 2012

Abstract

Obesity is a rising epidemic. This research study shows that the scale of such a phenomenon is due to the effects of peers on individual weight-related behaviour, as well as to the limits on dynamic behavior imposed by habits. We estimate a dynamic linear-in-means model to analyse the importance of social ties for US youth Body Mass Index. We show that imitation effects explain most of the variation in the Body Mass Index of individuals who were normal-weight and overweight during adolescence. Obese adolescents, instead, become future obese adults through wrong habits enforced by imitative behavior. These findings call for group-level policy interventions, as a social multiplier effect might take place.

Keywords: Overweight, Obesity, Peer Effects, Social Networks, Personal History, Dynamic Linear-in-means Model

JEL Classification: C01, D10, D71, I19, J11, Z13

Suggested Citation

Corrado, Luisa and Distante, Roberta, Obesity is Contagious! Evidence from US Data (November 29, 2012). Review of Environment, Energy and Economics (Re3), Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2183134

Luisa Corrado

University of Rome Tor Vergata Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

Via Columbia n.2
Rome, rome 00100
Italy

Roberta Distante (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

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