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Not only in my genes: The effects of peers’ genotype on obesity

Giorgio Brunello (), Anna Sanz-de-Galdeano and Anastasia Terskaya

Journal of Health Economics, 2020, vol. 72, issue C

Abstract: We use data from three waves of Add Health to study the short- and long-run effects of high school peers’ genetic predisposition to high BMI—measured by grade-mates’ average BMI polygenic scores—on adolescent and adult obesity in the U.S. We find that, in the short-run, a one standard deviation increase in peers’ average BMI polygenic scores raises the probability of obesity for females by 2.8% points, about half the size of the effect induced by a one standard deviation increase in one's own polygenic score. No significant effect is found for males. In the long-run, however, the social-genetic effect fades away, while the effect of one's own genetic risk for BMI increases substantially. We suggest that mechanisms explaining the short-run effect for females include changes in nutrition habits and a distorted perception of body size.

Keywords: Obesity; Peer effects; BMI polygenic scores; Add Health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D62 I1 I12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Working Paper: Not Only in My Genes: The Effects of Peers' Genotype on Obesity (2019) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2020.102349

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