The impact of social groups and self-esteem on obesity: An empirical study among Australian adults

Byth, Sophie (2015). The impact of social groups and self-esteem on obesity: An empirical study among Australian adults Honours Thesis, School of Economics, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Byth, Sophie
Thesis Title The impact of social groups and self-esteem on obesity: An empirical study among Australian adults
School, Centre or Institute School of Economics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2015-11
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Paul Frijters
Redzo Mujcic
Total pages 103
Language eng
Subjects 140208 Health Economics
140219 Welfare Economics
14 Economics
Formatted abstract
In recent years, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased markedly worldwide. It has been theorised that some of this increase may be attributed to changes in certain psychological markers, such as self-esteem, but little attention has been focused on these mechanisms. This study hypothesises that decreases in self-esteem cause individuals to gain weight. A utility-maximisation model is established which relates self-esteem to weight. This model is empirically tested with data from several waves of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey using life events as instruments.

Social interconnectedness and media consumption have risen rapidly in the modern world, concurrently with the increased prevalence of overweight and obesity. The resulting increase in social group size is examined as a potential cause of systematic decreases in self-esteem. A theoretical model demonstrating this relationship is developed and preliminary tests are conducted using the HILDA survey.

Finally, the policy implications of this analysis are discussed, with a focus on public health policy. The results of the empirical analysis lend support to the hypothesis that self-esteem affects the prevalence of overweight and obesity, and that the increased size of social groups causes injury to self-esteem.
Keyword Obesity epidemic
Self-esteem
Social & economic conditions
Public health policy

 
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Created: Thu, 28 Jan 2016, 10:46:21 EST by Heidi Ellis on behalf of School of Economics