As the years creep on by, you may be noticing a bit more middle around your middle and size to your thighs. So what's to blame? Is it your advancing years? Maybe. The super-size bag of chips you ate last night? Probably. Your spouse? Most definitely.
In a newly released study that followed participants for 25 years, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that the unhealthy patterns of one spouse can significantly affect the other. And when one spouse becomes obese, his or her partner is 50 percent more likely to do the same.
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For the study, researchers followed nearly 4,000 couples beginning between 1987 and 1989. They were given an initial exam and then reevaluated three more times over the course of the next 10 years or so.
At the start of the study, 23 percent of the male participants and 25 percent of the females were considered obese. (Side note: I find this interesting because we tend to think of obesity as a new epidemic, but this study found that almost one-quarter of participants were obese and this was almost 30 years ago.)
Over the course of the study, researchers found that the men who were not obese were 78 percent likely to become obese if their wives also gained weight. The non-obese women in the study were 89 percent more likely to become obese if their husbands did.
Of those who started out obese, none lost enough weight to no longer be considered obese. Those who lost weight also had spouses that lost weight too.
It makes sense that couples who share common schedules and routines — not to mention groceries — will gain or lose weight in tandem. But researchers think that the study highlights the need to address the health of both partners in a couple when addressing obesity concerns.
If you want to get healthy and lose weight, you're going to need your partner on board to do the same. Or at the very least make sure he or she isn't sabotaging your efforts.