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Study: women gain weight in marriage, men in divorce

A new study reports that both men and women commonly gain weight during marriage and following a divorce. However, the genders are believed to be more susceptible to weight gain following different life events: men gain weight following a divorce, while women gain weight during marriage.

The study, which was reported at the recent meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas, examined data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The survey had collected the Body Mass Index (BMI) ratio of weight to height for 10,071 people surveyed from 1986 to 2008. The researchers in the most recent study examined the BMI data for survey participants during the two years following a marriage and a divorce.

In general, researchers found that a marital transition caused slight weight gain in nearly all survey participants, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or wealth. However, it also found that women are more likely to have significant weight gain in the two years following their weddings, and men are more likely to gain a large amount after a divorce.

Although researchers are not entirely sure of the reasons for the disparities in gain trends, sociology professor Zhenchao Quian offered a theory. “Married women often have a larger role around the house than men do and they may have less time to exercise,” he said. “On the other hand, studies show that married men get a health benefit from marriage and they lose that benefit once they get divorced.”

For both genders, however, the weight gain was more likely to occur if their marriage or divorce took place after the age of 30. Therefore, people who go through marital transitions in their 20s were less likely to experience significant weight gain.

Source: Deseret News, “Study: Men gain weight after divorce, women after marriage,” Lois M. Collins, Aug. 28, 2011

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