Ohio State University recently concluded a study finding that marriage and divorce take a unique toll on the body weight of men and women. It was found that men are at greatest risk of putting on weight immediately following a divorce and women put on weight immediately following marriage. While the timing may be unique, researchers were interested in the emotional factors which lead to this phenomenon.
In many cases, the catalyst to weight gain is prominent and the weight gained itself poses major health risks. It appears that once past age 30, the weight gaining is most prominent.
Researchers Tumin and Qian used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth '79 which followed over 10,000 people every year until 1994 and every other year since then. The subjects were separated into categories to better organise their experiences, and data was collected on participants from 1986 to 2008. The BMI of these individuals was tracked (measure of height to weight ratio).
The researchers then took into account various other factors including socio-economic status, pregnancy, time of marriage, poverty and education. While many other studies have examined weight gain and loss through marriage and divorce, they tend to leave out causal factors, and use just one average for a whole sample group. This study found the results most prominent in adults 30 to 50, with increasingly likelihood of occurrence with increased age.
The researchers are still unsure why weight gain is more likely within the first few years of marriage for women but following a divorce for men. While the overall average of weight change after a divorce shows weight loss within the first year, looking at the numbers more specifically shows dramatic weight gain in men.
Further research will be needed to determine the psychological and emotional factors which may lead to each of these cases of weight gain to better understand the weight changes in today's population.
Tuman, Qian 2011. Ohio State University
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