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Journal Article

Regional and district peer effects in obesity: a UK panel data analysis


Publication date

Jan 2018


Most research concerning the causes of obesity has focused on macroeconomic trends or individual-level determinants relating to socioeconomic status. There is now growing interest in the psychosocial determinants of obesity. Little research has been conducted into wide-scale peer effects and so the aim of this study was to determine whether regional and district peer effects determine individual-level obesity in the UK. Data from the British Household Panel Survey (for the years 2004 and 2006) were used to model individual-level BMI and probability of obesity as a function of regional and district BMI, controlling for a variety of other variables. Instrumental variable techniques were used to investigate simultaneity bias. We found no statistically significant regional peer effect in the UK. For men, we found that a 1 point increase in average district BMI increased individual BMI by 0.640 and probability of being obese by 1.9% points; for women, BMI increased by 0.230 and probability of being obese by 1.6% points. Men appear to be more susceptible to these effects than women. Peer effects at the district level may have played a significant role in the rise of obesity in the UK. Further research must aim to disentangle the two routes by which these processes are theorised to function.

Published in

Health and Social Care in the Community

Volume and page numbers

26 , 35 -40





Area Effects, Health, and Social Psychology


University of Essex, Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to University of Essex registered users* -


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