Study explores connection between marriage, divorce and weight gain

One of the more persistent claims surrounding marriage is that husbands and wives – deeply entrenched in marital bliss – tend to gain extra weight. While many have theorized that children and/or a sense of complacency are perhaps to blame for this phenomenon, others have dismissed it as nothing more than myth. As it turns out, however, there may be some truth to this claim, and that the weight gain is actually associated with both marriage and divorce.

According to researchers at Ohio State University (OSU), weight gain is more likely to occur in women after marriage, while weight gain is more likely to occur in men after a divorce.

The researchers identified both of these major life events as so-called “weight shocks.”

“Divorces for men and, to some extent marriages for women, promote weight gains that may be large enough to pose a health risk,” said Dmitry Tumin, one of the primary authors of the study.

Tumin and his fellow researchers arrived at these conclusions by studying data on 10,071 people gathered over a 22-year period (1986 to 2008), carefully examining their weight gain in the two years after a marriage or divorce, and paying attention to other important factors such as education, pregnancy, poverty, etc.

Interestingly the OSU researchers also determined that these marriage/divorce-related weight gains are more likely to be significant for those adults who are in their 30s and above.

“For someone in their mid-20s, there is not much of a difference in the probability of gaining weight between someone who just got married and someone who never married. But later in life, there is much more of a difference,” said Tumin.

Why then are older women who marry and older men who divorce more predisposed to weight gain?

“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,” said Zhenchao Qian, a sociology professor at OSU. “On the other hand, studies show that married men get a health benefit from marriage, and they lose that benefit once they get divorced, which may lead to their weight gain.”

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about dissolution of marriage, spousal support or property division, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal or financial advice.

Related Resources:

My Fox Boston “Study: Women gain weight after wedding, men after divorce” Aug. 22, 2011