Ethnic differences in the influence of peers on weight-related behavior


Ajilore, Olugbenga & Asiseh, Fafanyo (2018). Ethnic differences in the influence of peers on weight-related behavior. The Review of Black Political Economy. vol. 45 (1) pp. 69-90


There is no doubt that peers have an influence on individual weight gain. This article seeks to find if the influence of peers is consistent across ethnic groups or whether certain groups are influenced more by their peers than other groups. Studies in the peer effects literature primarily focus on identifying the direct impact of peers on individual behavior. The difficulty in isolating the direct behavioral effect of peers on individual's behavior is that there are several mechanisms driving the correlation between individual's outcomes and peer group outcomes. We model peer effects using an identification strategy that exploits network structure and incorporates group-specific fixed effects to control for confounding effects. Using data taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), we find that peer effects exist across all genders and ethnic groups, but it is more prevalent for Hispanic youth with respect to sedentary activities. The findings also show that having male peers is associated with lower exercise for both young males and young females. The implications of this study are that reducing obesity through encouraging healthy behaviors should not only focus on individual factors but also on the role of peers as well as gender and ethnic differences in the design of such programs.



Physical activity Sedentary activity Ethnic disparities Spatial econometrics Peer effects

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

The Review of Black Political Economy


Ajilore, Olugbenga
Asiseh, Fafanyo

Year Published


Volume Number


Issue Number





May 21, 2018



Reference ID