A Very Interesting Link Between Marriage and Diet

Marriage and Diet

Men - it seems as though you need us to keep you healthy!

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A new study suggests that diet and marital status are somewhat linked, at least for men. Since both a healthy lifestyle and a healthy relationship are positively associated with long life, perhaps getting hitched is one of the better things you can do for yourself!

Past studies have observed that marital status and diet quality are linked, usually to being overall more healthful. However, specifics have not been more closely researched so a team at University of Cambridge Centre for Diet and Activity Research evaluated data collected from more than 11,000 UK participants aged 40 to 80 during the mid to late 90s.

The researchers looked specifically at marriages that ended in separation, divorce, or being widowed. Fruit and vegetable consumption was measured as fresh produce is linked to reducing the risk for many common chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Diets were overall assessed for four areas: Fruit quantity, fruit variety, vegetable quantity, and vegetable variety.

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Compared to men who stayed married, widowed men showed significant declines in all four areas- meaning they ate less overall fruits and vegetables, and the produce they ate were more limited and not varied. Separated and divorced men showed significant declines in three of the four.

Why would this be?

For this generation, born in the 1920s to 1960s, food skills and behaviors would have been highly gendered, with women having primary responsibility for shopping and preparing meals,” says lead author, Pablo Monsivais, senior lecturer at the University. “That may partly explain why women who were single or became single did not show much deterioration in their eating habits.”

Journal Reference: Marital transitions and associated changes in fruit and vegetable intake: Findings from the population-based prospective EPIC-Norfolk cohort, UK. Social Science & Medicine, Volume 157, May 2016, Pages 120–126

Photo Credit: David Ball - Own work, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2532319

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