Research Paper Sheffield Economic Research Paper Series 2010012
Going the same 'weigh': spousal correlations in obesity in the UK
The obesity epidemic has received widespread media and research attention. However, the social phenomenon of obesity is still not well understood. Data from the 2004 and 2006 waves of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) show positive and significant correlations in spousal body mass index (BMI). This paper explores three mechanisms of shared individual characteristics, social influence and shared environment to explain this correlation. A number of econometric specifications are used to investigate the role of observed individual characteristics, own health, spouse health, social influence, contextual effects and unobserved individual effects on the influence of these three hypotheses on the correlation in spousal BMI. Results indicate that social influence and shared individual characteristics, which may arise through assortative matching, both contribute to correlation in spousal BMI.