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Friday, November 25, 2011

When Couples Team Up To Lose, They Win!

A number of recent studies indicate a correlation between couples and weight gain, as well as between couples and weight loss. The body of research shows that, while couples who live together may initially gain weight, when they undertake a weight loss program together, they are apt to lose weight more successfully than if one of them goes it alone.

In a summary report about general connections between marriage and overall health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that weight gain among couples may be due to a more sedentary lifestyle. Among the studies that the report cited was research conducted at the Division of Epidemiology, University of Minnesota that recorded the Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) of couples who lived together, both married and unmarried. The study concluded that couples who shared an environment were likely to experience concordant weight gain, with significant weight gain accrued after two years.

Observations about sedentary lifestyles and shared environments do not specifically explain why couples who live together tend to gain weight. Some theorize that couples that eat together consume more food than they would if dining alone. Another theory is that the acceptance couples feel when in a committed relationship makes them feel less compelled to maintain a healthy weight. Anecdotal evidence indicates that couples simply enjoy the intimacy experienced when sharing a meal together.

Fortunately, when couples choose to lose weight together, they are more likely to succeed than if either of them tries to lose weight alone. One of the most compelling studies to support this conclusion comes from research conducted at the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University. The study observed married participants in a 12-month fitness program.

Monthly attendance in the program was significantly higher among married pairs than it was for married singles. Married pairs attended about 54 percent of the sessions, while married singles attended about 40 percent. Drop-out levels were strikingly different. Only about 6 percent of the married couples dropped out of the program, while about 43 percent of the married singles dropped out. Fifty percent of those that dropped out cited lack of spousal support as the reason.

An Australian study conducted at the University Department of Medicine at Royal Perth Hospital specifically set out to examine the weight gain and reduced physical inactivity that can follow marriage. Thirty-four of the 39 married couples participating in a 16-week lifestyle modification program completed the study. At the end of the program, all the couples felt better about their ability to control their weight. All were eating healthier foods and exercising consistently. The cholesterol level of the participants fell by 6 percent more than the non-participating control group. All participants rated the program as valuable.

Marcus Rey Willliams MD
Lead Weight Loss Coach
Swet Life Team

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