Is Travis bound to gain weight when he marries?

So, as some of our readers may know, our very own Travis Saunders is tying the knot with the love of his life this coming weekend. While I couldn’t be happier for these two, and can’t wait to celebrate with them, I thought it would be appropriate to remind the currently-unwed Travis of some research he may have missed;)

According to the title of a study in the journal Obesity , “Entry into romantic partnership is associated with obesity.”

Although marital status is often tied to improved health, greater longevity and lower prevalence of unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking, being in a romantic partnership is also apparently a recipe for weight gain.

First, it is important to note that BMI status has long been shown to be highly correlated between spouses. It is hypothesized this correlation is due to the following:

1) Assortative mating – likelihood of individuals to select romantic partners who are similar to them in behaviour as well as appearance. This explains why Brad Pitt is with Angelina Jolie, why Danny DeVito is with Rhea Perlman, and also why Travis is with Daun.

2) Shared household environment – live in the same place and thus the same environmental cues which cause one partner to be inactive and eat unhealthy influence the other.

However, this recent study specifically looks at the likelihood of gaining weight or becoming obese when people enter into relationships and co-habitate.

In one of the analyses, the authors report that over a 6 year follow up of over 11 000 individuals transitioning from being single or just dating to being married doubled the risk of becoming obese over those who did not marry.

In another analysis, the authors also found that “cohabiting and married couples had less healthy profiles for obesity, physical activity, and screen time than dating romantic pairs.” In particular, living together for more than 2 years seemed to up the risk of most unhealthy and obesigenic behaviours.

So what is it about being in a stable and long-term romantic relationship that seems to make us fatter? One theory suggest that there is a general decline in the desire to maintain body weight or general appearance for the purposes of attracting a mate.

So what’s the solution to the apparently inevitable weight gain? Stay single!

On a more serious note, we had previously discussed a paper which reported that obesity (or at least the behaviours that lead to it) are transmitted via social networks – marriage being one of the strongest social ties we can develop. On the other hand, such thinking also suggests that healthy behaviours can also be transmitted from partner to partner.

So if you’d like to be in a relationship and yet avoid the impending weight-gain, maintain a healthy lifestyle and you and your partner will live happily and healthily ever after.

And, fortunately for Travis and Daun, who are both health nuts and extremely physically active, rather than gaining weight, they are likely to keep each other on track to a long, healthy and active life together.

Congrats to you both!

Peter

The, N., & Gordon-Larsen, P. (2009). Entry Into Romantic Partnership Is Associated With Obesity Obesity DOI:

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10 Responses to Is Travis bound to gain weight when he marries?

  1. Amanda Posadowski says:

    Teddy lost about 40lbs since we got together, so fingers crossed Travis;) Congratulations and enjoy your weekend!

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  2. Timiji says:

    Indeed, Congratulations Travis and Daun!

    I’m wondering if the studies looking at the progression of body weight (i.e. creeping BMI) controlled for the effect of age – essentially a time effect? I suppose a group analysis over time does inherently control for time, doesn’t it. Never mind, then!

    What about controlling for gender, then? The dark recesses of my mind seem to recall that marriage has more positive outcomes for one gender than the other – but I can’t recall which.

    Happy wedding bells!

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  3. WRG says:

    Oops. I pressed the wrong button and lost everything. Here goes again.

    First, congratulations!

    Now on to the question:

    My first reaction is “so what if he does?” and is based on a statement you make yourself early on in this post, to wit: “[...]marital status is often tied to improved health, greater longevity and lower prevalence of unhealthy behaviours[...]“. In the great scheme of things, does it really matter if he gains weight, if marital status is also tied to lots of positive health outcomes?

    My second reaction is, “of course he won’t gain weight!”. Travis is clearly an ectomorph. I wouldn’t be surprised if a) he has a natural tendency to lose, rather than gain weight easily and b) his dad (and perhaps both his parents) has a similarly lanky physique. Marriage will have a hard time trumping heredity.

    And of course, as you say yourself, like attracts like. He’s marrying a person who’s just as into fitness as he is. Believe me, a ring on one’s finger has never been an impediment to walking as opposed to driving (though having children can sometimes be!) or playing squash as opposed to watching TV. They’ll both continue to live an active life together.

    I also have a question, though there’s no need to answer it. Have they been living together? If so, I don’t think the ring and the “I do” is going to change much about their daily life.

    So, no, it isn’t going to make any difference.

    And finally, I wish them a long and healthy life together–no matter what they weigh! Isn’t that what it’s really all about, rather than a number on the scale or a highly flawed number like the BMI?

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  4. Alan E. says:

    Is this a reason to deny anyone from marrying? NO! It just raises a point of concern that should be let known to those who are or are getting married. It should focus on education about getting the best out of marriage instead of systematically denying people that right.

    This article or study isn’t directly related to same-sex couples marrying, but it is an example of the type of study that anti-gay groups would use if they wanted to discredit gay Americans. If this study focused only on married or committed gay couples, you would be damn sure that the results would look similar to this study, but it would be misconstrued by those groups to say something bad about gays.

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  5. I’m about to blog on the research presented by Ohio State sociologists who found both marriage and divorce can act as “weight shocks.” They say men gain it after a divorce, women gain weight after a marriage. So I’m guessing – and hoping — he won’t!

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  6. Pingback: I've found my problem! My husband is hazardous to my health! - Page 2 - 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet Weight Loss Community Weight Loss Support

  7. If a wife is good cook than he should watch out. I know I can resist my wife’s cuisine.

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  8. Noadi says:

    I’ve lost weight since my boyfriend and I started seeing each other (though I gained most of it back but since it was all while I spent 12 weeks in a walking cast for a broken ankle and badly torn tendon I don’t think it counts and I’ve been losing it again). His weight hasn’t been so positive and I keep prodding him to actually use the gym membership he has. Right now we live over an hour drive apart but hopefully when we move in together in a few months he’ll go with me to the gym. He’s 9 years older than me, I need to keep him healthy so he can keep up with me.

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  9. Dava says:

    I highly recommend marriage. Although I did put on weight (we developed a habit of a pint of ice cream with 2 spoons–now abandoned), my husband has been very supportive of my commitment to getting back in shape. I don’t think I could do it without him. Congratulations, Travis and Daun!

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  10. It’s pretty straightforward:

    -Sooner or later, one of you learns how to cook. Well.
    -It’s more fun to make and eat nice meals when you have someone to eat with.
    -Babies = more evenings spent at home, relaxing around the hearth of your choice.

    For a couple who is serious about health and fitness, the extra five pounds or whatever are not Pounds of Death. But figure that for some couples, the happily-married lifestyle magnifies their previous weight/exercise problem, and pushes them over the edge into obesity.

    Jen.

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