Peer Effects and Obesity

Jason M. Fletcher

in The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736362
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Peer Effects and Obesity

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This chapter discusses both the findings on and challenges to the estimation of peer effects on obesity. It also reviews the most visible work in this area, the proposed empirical solutions in the research, and follow-up research. There are three empirical difficulties in attaining a causal peer effect estimate: (1) the endogeneity of the peer group (overweight individuals may choose overweight friends); (2) shared environmental influences (the opening of a fast-food restaurant or gym) may affect the weights of all socially connected individuals; and (3) the issue of simultaneity. Peer effects could produce a social multiplier that allows the benefits of health interventions to be increased through social ties. The considerable evidence suggesting correlations in peer behaviors cannot yet be used to show that peers cause weight gain.

Keywords: peer effects; obesity; endogeneity; simultaneity; health interventions

Article.  4556 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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