Study: Spouse’s weight gain exponentially increases partner’s obesity risk

  • 78% increased risk for men, 89% for women if their spouses become obese
  • Changes in spouse’s lifestyle can influence partner’s
  • A spouse’s healthy lifestyle can also benefit partner

Now we know why married couples have to go through thick and thin together.

In a US study spanning 25 years and covering almost 4,000 couples, researchers have discovered that a person’s risk of obesity increases by almost double if their significant other happens to gain a significant amount of weight.

As per results, men whose wives became obese during that period were 78 percent more likely to experience significant weight gain themselves. For the ladies, it was even worse: 89 percent after their hubbies became literal chubbies.

“Normal weight people whose spouses went from being normal weight to obese were more likely to become obese,” GMA News quoted lead researcher Laura Cobb as saying.

Asked to explain the correlation, Cobb said a person’s lifestyle choice can definitely rub off on their significant others.

“This suggests that changes in one spouse are also likely to be reflected in the other spouse, likely because of similar changes in diet, physical activity or other behaviors that impact obesity,” she said.

Weight loss researcher Ivanka Prichard who wasn’t involved in the study agreed.

“Over time similarities in diet, particularly any unhealthy aspects may lead to changes,” she said. “There are also a range of pressures in life that could impact this such as having children, work, shared health knowledge, time or finances.”

However, University of Texas’ Population Research Center Director Debra Umberson said the opposite should also hold true.

“When married people get in shape or lose weight, it’s often because one spouse takes the lead and urges the other spouse along,” she said. “Even if the person not taking the lead is resistant, over time they will probably be influenced by the kinds of food and activities their spouse is involved with, especially if the person taking the lead is the one who purchases groceries or prepares meals.”