Cribbing comes about due to stress of unnatural, unhealthy management practices, such as keeping a horse stabled a lot, solitary confinement, boredom, etc. Particularly due to unhealthy feeding, such as infrequent(less than 3-4 times daily) rich & or large meals, and lack of forage/fibre, as in free choice hay/grazing. It is an obsessive compulsive coping behaviour, which is thought to be self-reinforcing because it produces endorphines that may reduce the horse's stress/pain.
In a study done a number of years ago on Australian racehorses, a huge percentage were found to have stomach ulcers, and the vast majority were cribbers, so I think the jury's still out on mental stress being a possible cause, but the physical causes have definitely been proven.
It is an annoying 'habit' that can be virtually unbreakable in many horses, even once the diet & management have been rectified. Horses can damage timber fences, doors and their teeth in the process. I'm pretty sure that it's now been proven that horses don't learn the 'habit' from eachother. Therefore, if a number of horses at the same barn develop the habit for eg. Then it's pretty obvious the management practices aren't healthy for the horses there.
While it has been linked to weightloss & colic, it seems that it is a *symptom* of the problems that cause the prob, not the cause of it. Eg. Stomach ulcers & unhealthy feeding practices lead to weight loss, colic and cribbing or windsucking.
I wouldn't be worried about acquiring a cribber, so long as I had a decent *healthy* environment to keep him - eg. 24/7 turnout with other horse(s) and free choice hay/grazing(well, I wouldn't take on any horse without those requirements). I would treat him for ulcers, if I thought it was probable, preferrably avoid, replace or minimise the amount of timber fence posts or rails, & paint them with 'cribbox' or such as a deterrant. Then I would pretty much forget about the problem.