Women pack on pounds in marriage, men in divorce
Tuesday 23 August 2011
Researchers from Ohio State University in the US found that for men, divorce can trigger a large weight gain; for women, gaining a spouse can mean packing on the pounds.
"Clearly, the effect of marital transitions on weight changes differs by gender," said Dmitry Tumin, lead author of the study and doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State University.
"Divorces for men and, to some extent, marriages for women promote weight gains that may be large enough to pose a health risk."
Tumin conducted the study with Zhenchao Qian, professor of sociology at Ohio State University, and relied on data from a longitudinal study involving 10,071 Americans interviewed from 1986 to 2008. They presented their research August 22 in Las Vegas at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
Most participants' weight did not fluctuate much in the two-year period following a marriage or divorce. However, about 10 to 15 percent gained a large amount of weight, more than 20 pounds (nine kilos), after a marriage, and 10 percent lost weight after a divorce.
In a given two-year period, women who married were 46 percent more likely to gain a large amount of weight than women who remained single. Men were not at increased risk for large weight gains after marriage, the study revealed. Prior research has found that men actually get a health boost from marriage, including decreased risks for smoking and alcoholism.
However, men were 63 percent more likely to gain weight after divorce than men who remained married over the same period. Women's risk of weight gain after divorce was about half that.
"Married women often have a larger role around the house than men do, and they may have less time to exercise and stay fit than similar unmarried women," Qian said of the findings.
Ways to reverse the risks? Experts say awareness is key - keeping a close eye on your health during transitional times. While divorce is a major stress trigger, stick to a healthy eating plan, get regular exercise, and seek emotional support. For married women, avoid "manning up" your portions to match your mate and factor in daily exercise to keep extra pounds at bay.
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