Happy Marriages May Make You Fat
As newlyweds exchange their vows, perhaps there should be a warning label attached to the marriage certificate: happy marriages may make you fat. While it would be great for everyone to experience marital bliss, a new study suggests there may be some health risks associated with such happiness.
Is your marriage healthy?
If you think about all the married couples you know and how each couple’s weight changed over time, you may come to the same conclusions reached by the authors of a new study from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas. Generally, young newlyweds who are happy with their unions put on weight within the early years of their marriage.
Such happiness can come with a price, however, in the form of health problems. The slow accumulation of excess weight can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other health conditions.
The authors arrived at their conclusions after tracking marital satisfaction, weight, and steps toward divorce over four years for 169 first-married couples. Their findings contrast somewhat with previous studies indicating that happy marriages are good for your health.
In this study, however, “spouses who were more satisfied with their marriage were less likely to consider leaving their marriage, and they gained more weight over time,” noted Andrea L. Meltzer, the study’s lead researcher and an assistant professor at SMU.
Not all the couples were so happy, however, and those individuals tended to gain less weight over time. This research brings to mind the phrase “letting yourself go,” which refers to not taking as much care of one’s appearance as one once did.
Several years ago, a study from researchers at Ohio State University reported that women tend to put on weight after marriage, while men tend to accumulate pounds after a divorce. That study did not identify the reasons for weight gain differences between men and women and marital status, although one of the authors suggested “married women often have a larger role around the house than men do,” which gives them less time to exercise.
Another study looked at the health benefits of marriage, and specifically married individuals who undergo coronary bypass surgery. Investigators from the University of Rochester found that happily married people are more likely to survive 15 years than their unmarried peers, probably because partners support each other.
Take home message from new marriage study
So what’s the take home message from this new study on marriage? Meltzer noted that their findings suggest individuals in a marriage are more concerned about their weight in terms of how they look rather than their health. This seems to be a logical assumption.
However, the authors also emphasized health rather than marital bliss, noting that “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.” For now, however, it appears that happy marriages may make you fat, unless individuals start to think about their health and weight as well as their happiness.