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Marital transitions can increase risk of large weight gain in men, women

January 10, 2016

However, most other studies have suggested divorce actually leads to weight loss, at least in the first years after the marriage ends. Again, this may be because other studies have not separated people into age and gender groups, and only used average changes in weight, Tumin said.

The data in this study can't reveal why men are more likely to have large weight gains after divorce, while marriage is more likely to cause large weight gains for women.

However, these results fit with other research on how marriage affects men and women.

"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.

"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."

The probability of weight gain become more pronounced for men and women who marry or divorce after age 30 and the changes only grow larger as people get older, the study found.

"From age 22 to 30, the effect of marital transitions on weight is not very clear," Qian said.

"But both marriages and divorces increase the risk of weight changes from about age 30 to 50, and the effect is stronger at later ages."

Tumin said that it may be that people settle into certain patterns of physical activity and diet over time. "As you get older, having a sudden change in your life like a marriage or a divorce is a bigger shock than it would have been when you were younger, and that can really impact your weight."

The researchers noted that this study only looked at people for two years after a marital transition, and results may change over the years.

"This study really looks at the shock of a marital transition and how it affects weight,' Tumin said.

Source: Ohio State University