Being happily married could make you pile on the pounds
5th April 2013
coupleWe probably all know people who have blamed weight gain on ‘being in love’ or because they are now in a happy relationship when previously single, but the findings of a new study could indeed show this theory has some weight behind it! In particularly, it seems happily married couples are the ones most at risk of expanding waistlines as they will have a much lesser desire or need to attract a new partner. U.S. researchers recruited 169 newly-wed couples and documented their marital bliss (or lack of) over a period of four years. The researchers, based at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, say the study findings question the long-standing view that quality relationships were a positive thing for health and weight. Psychologist Andrea L Meltzer, who led the study, said: “On average, spouses who were more satisfied with their marriage were less likely to consider leaving their marriage, and they gained more weight over time. In contrast, couples who were less satisfied in their relationship tended to gain less weight over time.” Meltzer states that previous psychological research had linked marriage and weight gain and that weight loss was commonly attributed to going through a divorce and the after-effects. She adds that exactly how marital satisfaction impacts our weight is still undetermined. “For example, studies have found that satisfied couples are more likely to take medications on time and schedule annual physicals,” Ms Meltzer said. “Yet the role of marital satisfaction and actual health is less clear.” For the four-year duration that the married couples were monitored, they were regularly asked to rate their marital satisfaction on a scale, while their weight and height was measured to determine their Body Mass Index (BMI). Meltzer and her team discovered that for each unit increase in satisfaction, on average, men and women gained around one tenth of a BMI unit every six months. This equates to a weight gain of one pound each year for a woman who is 5ft 4 in height and with a weight of 8½ stone. Those unhappy in their marriage were more likely to leave their partner, Meltzer says, and on average did not put on as much weight. She added: “So these findings suggest that people perhaps are thinking about their weight in terms of appearance rather than health”, and stressed that young couples should be educated to fully understand that weight is a key factor of maintaining their health. She concluded: “We know that weight gain can be associated with a variety of negative health consequences, for example diabetes and cardiovascular disease. By focusing more on weight in terms of health implications as opposed to appearance implications, satisfied couples may be able to avoid potentially unhealthy weight gain over time in their marriages.”