Page 55 - magazine-jan-feb14

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We’re all familiar with studies showing
that marital status is associated with
improved health and lower mortality.
However, two recent studies suggest that
having a male partner is associated with
being overweight for women.
Data from the National Longitudinal
Study of Adolescent Health followed
the relationship status of about 7,000
young adults. Relationship status
was self-reported as single, dating,
cohabiting (living with a partner, but
not married) or married. The study
found that regardless of relationship
status, both men and women were at
risk of being overweight but the risk was
higher overall for women. Cohabitating
increased the odds of becoming obese
for women by 63 percent, compared
with only 30 percent for men. Marriage
doubled the risk of obesity for both men
and women - 107 percent for men and
127 percent for women.
Another study, the Australian
Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health,
looked at weight gain in women. It
found that over the 10-year study
• Single women gained about 11 pounds
• Women with partners gained about 15
• Women with partners and a baby
gained about 20 pounds
Although having a baby had a greater
effect on 10-year weight gain, the
influence of living with a partner was
also substantial.
These were observational studies - not
sophisticated randomized controlled
trials. Although they controlled for
variables such as race and ethnicity,
educational level and age, other things
may have influenced the findings. Many
lifestyle changes occur when young
adults are dating and getting married
that may influence weight gain, such as
less physical activity, more sedentary
behavior, more regular meals and even a
decline in the desire to maintain weight
for the purpose of attracting a mate.
But finding a partner and settling down
don’t have to lead to being overweight!
Entering into a partnership offers unique
opportunities to develop strategies for
preventing weight gain: Gym dates.
Healthy cooking classes for two. Splitting
or sharing meals. Is this a new area for
premarital counseling - to explore how
couples can help each other eat better
and exercise more.
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
Marrying a man - or even living with
one - increases a woman’s risk of
being overweight.
Jan/Feb 2014