Does being happily married make you gain weight?

Across society, we appear to be packing on the pounds. There are any number of things that have been saddled with the blame: bigger portions and more processed foods (thanks for nothing, Triple Double Oreos); more TV and a more sedentary lifestyle; more sugar and corn; etc.

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Across society, we appear to be packing on the pounds. There are any number of things that have been saddled with the blame: bigger portions and more processed foods (thanks for nothing, Triple Double Oreos); more TV and a more sedentary lifestyle; more sugar and corn; etc. In general, weight gain is associated with negative habits. But did you ever think that your relationship — hopefully, a source of happiness — might have an impact on how much you weigh? Well, according to a new study — explored by Wency Leung at the Globe & Mail (“Women gain weight after marriage, men after divorce: study”) — your relationship status can have an impact on your waistline.

The study found that people over 30 tend to gain weight after marriage or divorce, known as “weight shocks,” but there’s also a gender component: women are more likely to gain weight after marriage, and men are more likely to gain weight after divorce. Why? Writes Leung: “The data did not reveal why men and women tend to respond to marriage and divorce differently. But co-author and sociology professor Zhenchao Qian offered this possible explanation: ‘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….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.'”

I understand that analysis and it computes, but I think there’s another fairly simple possible explanation at play. People in relationships get comfortable and content, they often love to cook and eat big meals together, they have less time for the gym, and they’re perhaps less worried about maintaining optimum levels of svelteness, having already snagged a partner. While we do need to maintain healthy habits for ourselves — and not just to turn heads — women might abandon a formerly rigid diet and exercise program and just relax into those five or 10 extra pounds. Which isn’t a bad thing. After all, most of us are happier eating corned beef sandwiches with a loved one than spending a solo evening with Lean Cuisine.