The prevalence of overweight and obesity is growing rapidly in many countries. Education policies might be important for reducing this increase. This paper analyses the causal effect of education on the probability of being overweight by using longitudinal data of Australian identical twins. The data include self-reported and clinical measures of body size. Our cross-sectional estimates confirm the well-known negative association between education and the probability of being overweight. For men we find that education also reduces the probability of being overweight within pairs of identical twins. The estimated effect of education on overweight status increases with age. Remarkably, for women we find no negative effect of education on body size when fixed family effects are taken into account. Identical twin sisters who differ in educational attainment do not systematically differ in body size. Peer effects within pairs of identical twin sisters might play a role.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Body size, Education, Overweight
JEL Health Production: Nutrition, Mortality, Morbidity, Substance Abuse and Addiction, Disability, and Economic Behavior (jel I12), Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health (jel I18), Education and Research Institutions: General (jel I20)
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhealeco.2009.11.013, hdl.handle.net/1765/26886
Journal Journal of Health Economics
Citation
Webbink, H.D, & Martin, N.G. (2010). Does education reduce the probability of being overweight?. Journal of Health Economics, 29(1), 29–38. doi:10.1016/j.jhealeco.2009.11.013