Testing for family influences on obesity: The role of genetic nurture

John Cawley, Euna Han, Jiyoon Kim, Edward C. Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


A large literature has documented strong positive correlations among siblings in health, including body mass index (BMI) and obesity. This paper tests whether that is explained by a specific type of peer effect in obesity: genetic nurture. Specifically, we test whether an individual's weight is affected by the genes of their sibling, controlling for the individual's own genes. Using genetic data in Add Health, we find no credible evidence that an individual's BMI is affected by the polygenic risk score for BMI of their full sibling when controlling for the individual's own polygenic risk score for BMI. Thus, we find no evidence that the positive correlations in BMI between siblings are attributable to genetic nurture within families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)937-952
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Economics (United Kingdom)
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy

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