Inspiration from the 'Biggest Loser': Social Interactions in a Weight Loss Program

Marketing Science, forthcoming

38 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2016 Last revised: 10 May 2018

See all articles by Kosuke Uetake

Kosuke Uetake

Yale School of Management

Nathan Yang

Cornell University

Date Written: May 3, 2018


We investigate the role of heterogeneous peer effects in encouraging healthy lifestyles. Our analysis revolves around one of the largest and most extensive databases about weight loss that track individual participants' meeting attendance and progress in a large national weight loss program. The main finding is that while weight loss among average performing peers has a negative effect on an individual's weight loss, the corresponding effect for the top performer among peers is positive. Furthermore, we demonstrate that our results are robust to potential issues related to selection into meetings, endogenous peer outcomes, individual unobserved heterogeneity, lagged dependent variables, and contextual effects. Ultimately, these results provide guidance about how the weight loss program should identify role models.

Keywords: Big Data; Customer Relationship Management; Healthy Living; Subscription Services; Weight Management

Suggested Citation

Uetake, Kosuke and Yang, Nathan, Inspiration from the 'Biggest Loser': Social Interactions in a Weight Loss Program (May 3, 2018). Marketing Science, forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Kosuke Uetake (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

Nathan Yang

Cornell University ( email )

Dyson School, Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-6201
United States
6072551590 (Phone)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics