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CEP discussion paper

Anorexia, Body Image and Peer Effects: Evidence from a Sample of European Women


Excessive preoccupation with self-image (or identity) is regarded as a factor contributing to the proliferation of food disorders, especially among young women. This paper models how self-image and peer effects influence health-related behaviours, specifically food disorders. We empirically test our claims using data from the European survey. Our findings suggest that the larger the peers’ body-mass, the lower the likelihood of being anorexic. Self-image is correlated with body weight. We use several definitions of peers’ body mass and we find that all are negatively associated with the likelihood of women being thin or extremely thin.


Joan Costa-Font and Mireia Jofre-Bonet

22 November 2011     Paper Number CEPDP1098

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.