Peer Effects, Fast Food Consumption and Adolescent Weight Gain

43 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2015

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

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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 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.

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

JEL Classification: C31, I10, I12

Suggested Citation

Fortin, Bernard and Yazbeck, Myra, Peer Effects, Fast Food Consumption and Adolescent Weight Gain. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2615251 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2615251

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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